filmed in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids restaurant in “The End of the Tour” scene

July 30th, 2015 at 1:19 pm by under Entertainment
"The End of the Tour" New York Times anatomy of a scene series

“The End of the Tour” New York Times anatomy of a scene series

Grand Rapids New Beginnings restaurant featured in scene released online

“The End of the Tour” is the focus of the latest New York Times ”anatomy of a scene” series with director commentary from James Ponsoldt.  The scene was filmed in a New Beginnings restaurant in Grand Rapids in 2014.

The movie is set in 1996 and in this scene (about 17 minutes into the movie according to Ponsoldt), with Jesse Eisenberg (reporter David Lipsky) interviewing Jason Segel (author David Foster Wallace).  Ponsoldt talks about what’s happening in the scene, not changing much about the look of the restaurant, the music playing in the background, and how the actors collaborated with him in the process.

“The End of the Tour” will open in New York and Los Angeles July 31st.  It will open August 14th in Detroit and August 21st in Grand Rapids.  In addition to Eisenberg and Segel, the cast includes Anna Chlumsky, Joan Cusack, and Ron Livingston.  The drama based on the true story of David Lipsky, the Rolling Stone reporter who interviewed the Infinite Jest author David Foster Wallace for five days in 1996.  The movie is rated R for language including some sexual references, it runs 1 hour, 46 minutes.

You can watch the entire ‘anatomy of a scene’ video on New York Times website.

"The End of the Tour" New York Times anatomy of a scene series

“The End of the Tour” New York Times anatomy of a scene series

The movie filmed for about 5 weeks in Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Grand Haven, and the the Muskegon County Airport Terminal in February and March 2014 and spent about $2.1 million in Michigan, mostly in the greater Grand Rapids area.   The Michigan Film Office said that the movie was  approved for the state’s film incentive.  ”End of the Tour” was awarded a $495,380 incentive based on $2,105,652 of projected in-state expenditures. At the time it was labeled “one of the biggest projects in 5 years”, as the limited projects drawn by the Michigan Film Incentives had mostly gone to the Detroit area.  The movie also filmed in Minneapolis and New York City.

(Watch the trailer here: )

Past blog posts about “The End of the Tour”:




2/19/14:  (more…)

“30 Minutes or Less” is now on DVD/Blu-Ray

November 29th, 2011 at 5:06 pm by under Entertainment

"30 Minutes or Less" poster courtesy Sony


“30 Minutes or Less” is now available on Blu-ray and DVD

The largest movie ever filmed in Grand Rapids is now available to watch at home.

“30 Minutes or Less” made $13.33 million in its opening weekend in August.  After 7 weeks in U.S. and an international release, the movie made more than $38 million dollars… that’s a success considering its estimated $28 million budget.

The comedy about a pizza delivery guy caught up in a bank robbery stars Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, and Nick Swardson.

The production spent about 20-million dollars during three months of filming in the Grand Rapids area and Ludington last year.

Previous Posts on “30 Minutes or Less”: (more…)

$30+ for “30 Minutes” at box office

August 29th, 2011 at 1:42 pm by under Entertainment
“30 Minutes or Less” is now turning a profit for Columbia Pictures

"30 Minutes or Less" poster courtesy Sony/Columbia

 According to box office estimates (final numbers due out this afternoon) “30 Minutes or Less” made $2,600,000 in its 3rd weekend of release, pushing the total gross to $31,702,000.   “30 Minutes” dropped three spots to 11th place, with the weekend’s three new movies finishing 2nd, 3rd, and 5th (2nd- “Colombiana”, 3rd – “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”, 5th – “Our Idiot Brother”).  

“30 Minutes” was a slightly larger decline this weekend, dropping 59.4% of its audience from last weekend (it dropped 52% from its opening weekend to its second weekend).   The movie did play in 817 fewer theaters than in its first two weeks of release (2,071 theaters versus 2,888 theaters).   Its per screen average (an indication of how “full” the theaters are) was also down, just $1,255 per screen this weekend compared to $2,217 per screen last weekend.

The total gross of $31.70 million in 17 days (2 weeks+3rd weekend) puts the movie into profitable territory.   The budget was a reported $28 million and spent about $20 million while filming in West Michigan.

The box office overall was hurt by Hurricane Irene, with hundreds of east coast theaters closing or planning to close, theaters across the country saw a 31% drop in revenues.   That’s the biggest drop from one weekend to the next during the 2011 calendar year… and the smallest weekend box office of the year (at $73.18 million, its about $300,000 less than the February 4th-6th weekend, which was the lowest weekend earnings until this weekend).

“30 Minutes or Less” is expected to play in even fewer theaters this weekend, but is scheduled to continue playing (albeit fewer shows) in West Michigan.

The studio should see more profits when “30 Minutes or Less” goes international September 16th in Europe, South America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.   The movie is expected to be released on DVD/BluRay in December. (more…)

$13.3 million not bad for “30 Minutes or Less”

August 16th, 2011 at 8:18 am by under Entertainment

Why 5th place in its opening weekend isn’t such a bad thing

"30 Minutes or Less" poster courtesy Sony

 A first look at the weekend box office’s final numbers may have some wondering if the West Michigan made “30 Minutes or Less” was a box office bust.   

Officially “30 Minutes or Less” made $13,330,118, good enough for 5th place.

The movie was predicted to make between $15 million and $17 million in its debut weekend and finish 4th… while its below those predictions, the movie did make nearly half its reported $28 million dollar budget back in the first weekend.  If it can hold at least 50% of its audience, despite mostly negative reviews from national critics, we’re looking at about $6.6 million in its second week for a total of nearly $20 million in two weekends.  The movie spent $20 million while filming in West Michigan.

Timing can be everything – “30 Minutes” was not helped by a big box office weekend - overall, the weekend was down 9.5% from the weekend before and without a large G, PG, or PG-13 opening, it was the 3rd lowest grossing weekend of this summer.  The 2nd lowest was June 10-12 when “Super 8″ opened at #1 and the lowest box office weekend of the summer was May 13–15 when “Thor” was #1 in its 2nd weekend of release. 

Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg in "30 Minutes or Less" filmed in Grand Rapids

 Ron VanTimmeran of Celebration! Cinema says “30 Minutes or Less” was number one at the 3 Grand Rapids theaters (North, Rivertown, South) and 4th overall in the Celebration! Cinema circuit (because it was 4th at all the other locations Muskegon, Portage, Mt. Pleasant, Benton Harbor, Lansing).  Here’s how the rankings looked at North, Rivertown, and South: #1 “30 Minutes”, #2 “The Help”, #3 “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”.   And how the movies stacked up at Muskegon, Portage, Mt. Pleasant, Benton Harbor, Lansing: #1 “The Help”, #2 “Final Destination 5″, #3 “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, #4 “30 Minutes”.

Celebration! North was the 20th highest grossing theater in the U.S. for “30 Minutes or Less” (we’re often in the top 100, but rarely this high) (also, the per screen average was 6x larger than the national average).  Celebration! Rivertown was the 41st highest grossing for “30 Minutes”.

VanTimmeran hopes that “30 Minutes or Less” will hold over 4-6 weeks in the 3 Grand Rapids area theaters (North, Rivertown, South), while nationally (and outside GR) it will probably only last 2-4 weeks.

The trouble with R rated comedies

Consider this: most R-rated comedies, except the “Hangover” movies (that made $44 and $85 million), are almost always limited in earnings in their first weekend at the box office because the audience is limited with the younger viewers (under 15) and older viewers (60+) shying away from the R-rated movies.

Danny McBride’s last movie “Your Highness” was also rated R, the action comedy made $9.36 million in its opening weekend earlier this year (4/8/11).   The R-rated action comedy “Cop Out” featured A-list actor Bruce Willis – it only managed $18.21 million in its opening weekend last year (2/26/10).  

In a weekend dates similiar to “30 Minutes”, the R-rated action comedy “Pineapple Express” pulled in $23,245,025 million in its opening weekend (8/6/08) and the R-rated comedy “Tropic Thunder” made $25.81 million in its opening weekend (8/13/08).  However both movies had bigger budgets and came out while “The Dark Knight” was in its 4th and 5th weeks of bringing in tons of viewers.

There are some easily accepted exceptions in addition to the “Hangover” movies, most feature biggger budgets and/or bigger name actors:

The R-rated comedy “Horrible Bosses” featured a cast that included A-list actors to help it make $28.30 million on opening weekend (7/8/11)… “Due Date” (R-rated comedy) featured the box office darling Robert Downey, Jr. and very popular Zach Galifinakis to push its opening weekend earnings to $32.68 million (11/5/10 )…  and the good reviews of “Bridesmaids” brought in $26.24 million for the R-rated comedy in its opening weekend (5/13/11).

More comparisons

Lead actor Jesse Eisenberg’s last (non-animated) movie, “The Social Network” was 1st in its opening weekend
with $22.44 million (10/1/10) and went on to win 3 oscars and was nominated for 9 others, but it was rated PG-13.

Director Ruben Fleischer’s first movie “Zombieland” did much better in its opening weekend, making about $11 million more than “30 Minutes or Less”.  The R-rated Horror Comedy made $24.73 in its opening weekend (10/2/09) and went on to make $75.59 million.

Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari in "30 Minutes or Less" photo courtesy Sony

 Looking forward

We’ll have to wait and see exactly how “30 Minutes or Less” fares in its second week, when traditionally, even good movies lose about 40% from the first week.  The biggest opening (and biggest earner) so far this year,
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″ opened to $169.18 million then dropped 72.0% in its 2nd week to $47.42.

“30 Minutes or Less” won’t be considered a disappointment because the movie will make more money in DVD/BluRay sales in December and will start making money overseas when it begins its international release September 16th in Europe (Estonia 9/16, France 9/21, Ireland 9/30, Norway 9/30, Turkey 9/30, Hungary 10/13, Sweden 10/14, UK 10/16, Italy 10/21, Finland 10/28, Belgium 11/9, Germany 11/10, Netherlands 11/24).   Then it opens in Asia (India  9/30, Taiwan 10/8, Singapore 10/13, Hong Kong 10/20, Vietnam 10/21, Korea  10/27, and Thailand 10/27).  The movie will also open in the Middle East and Africa (Israel  9/22, Jordan  10/19, Egypt  10/19, United Arab Emirates 10/20, Kenya  10/28, and South Africa 10/28).

Box office numbers courtesy: .

Previous Posts on “30 Minutes or Less”:

The locations of “30 Minutes or Less (8-11-11):

Behind the scenes segment (more…)

Review: “30 Minutes or Less” delivers a great big slice of R-rated comedy

August 12th, 2011 at 12:01 am by under Entertainment
Not only is “30 Minutes or Less” an action comedy for R-rated tolerant audiences to see, but its even more of a treat for West Michigan residents.

DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU  in the title and the first line of this review… and again here… this is not for younger audiences… or viewers easily offended by raunchy humor and/or adult content.  If you see this movie and then complain about the R-rated humor, situations, references, or innuendos – don’t blame this reviewer – this movie is not for all ages or all moviegoers.

"30 Minutes or Less" poster courtesy Sony

 (My spoiler-free review)

With my warning clear, lets get to the good stuff: this movie moves along with a brisk, fun, action pace that should have all appropriate audiences (see above) enjoying themselves.   There’s an abundant cleverness to this movie that keeps it above much of raunchiness just below the surface.  The early story lines of the main four characters are all tied closely together, giving audiences a through-line to follow and stay engaged in the development of these characters over the course of a story that clocks in just short of 90 minutes.

“30 Minutes or Less” is a well written and well acted, good story, that’s well directed with a perfect blend of comedy and action… good cinematography and editing and a equally solid soundtrack.

While the action is probably well known from the trailers, the chemistry of the two pairs of main characters (Jesse Eisenberg’s ”Nick” and Aziz Ansari’s “Chet” plus Danny McBride’s “Dwayne” and Nick Swardson’s “Travis”) makes this a fun buddy comedy like the good ol’ buddy comedy movies of the 1980′s. 

But unlike a “Lethal Weapon” or “48 Hours” that rely on a lot of action, comedy is the real strength of “30 Minutes or Less” – with a machine gun rapid fire of humor with so many one-liners (many of them ad-libbed by the cast) that its hard to write them all down, let alone hear them all because audiences are still laughing from the last joke that you might miss the next one.

Eisenberg’s ”Nick” and Ansari’s “Chet” work well off of each other… perfectly cast as the nerdy guy in trouble and the loyal friend who is asked to risk his life and career to help out.    The almost sympathetic pair of wanna-be criminals McBride (Dwayne) and Swardson (Travis) are strangely endearing, despite their exploits, crudeness, bad language, creepiness, and laziness.  There’s also a palpable tension going on among the pairs and between “the good guys and the bad guys”.   The supporting cast really rounds out this movie with Fred Ward as Dwayne’s tough dad, Michael Peña’s gangster with flair, and Dilshad Vadsaria as Nick’s wannabe girlfriend.

While “30 Minutes or Less” has plenty of raunchy jokes, its also has plenty of high-brow jokes to keep you thinking and paying attention … it all plays out like a fun play put on by a comedy troupe with some high quality stunts involving chases, flamethrowers, and some gun play.

Ansari’s “Chet” gets many of the great lines in the movie, some you may have heard in the trailers and some I can’t actually repeat here in this G-rated review.   Eisenberg’s “Nick” does make a (tongue-in-cheek) reference to Facebook and his role in “The Social Network”last year: “You know I don’t check that –, I’m off the grid”.  Some of the funnier lines are parts of exchanges between Ansari and Eisenberg or McBride and Swardson…. like a failed, but funny attempt by Swardon’s “Travis” to use the wildly popular (and now often overused) “that’s what she said” line.  While its not a line, there’s also one of the most clever uses ever of a laser pointer.

You can also keep your eyes and ears open for a multitude of pop culture references that 30-somethings will really appreciate.  References to mix tapes, the Contra video game code, ”Heat is On”, the music group Fish, and more.  There’s also obvious references to these movies “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Pointe Break”, ”Hurt Locker”, “Aliens”, “Lethal Weapon”, “Die Hard”, “Friday the 13th”, and ”Chet”‘s diatribe on Netflix subscriptions that everyone can appreciate.

The production completely embraces the fact that this movie is made and set in Grand Rapids, Michigan – while they are not GRPD cruisers during the chase scene down Divison Avenue, the police cars say “Grand Rapids police” … “Chet” pokes fun at the perceived lack of diversity “there’s only four Indian families in Grand Rapids” … “Nick” makes reference to the fact that Grand Rapids doesn’t even have a Radisson, although in reality, we do have one downtown.   There are lots of camera shots and movements that showcase Grand Rapids… but also try to make it feel like a much smaller town than it really is.

Check out this post for more on how Grand Rapids figures prominently in the movie.

“Filmed in Pure Michigan” isn’t the only thing at the end of the credits…. again, its more goofy and R-rated, if you can handle it.  I was actually more excited to see the “Pure Michigan” and the thanks to residents of Grand Rapids and other local thanks and credits.


“30 Minutes or Less” is (almost) all Grand Rapids

August 11th, 2011 at 11:37 pm by under Entertainment

Grand Rapids is the city setting for “30 Minutes or Less” … with a little help from Ludington

If you set out to catch all the West Michigan locations in “30 Minutes or Less”, you’ll be constantly pointing at the screen, but if you’re just watching for the fun of the movie, here’s a look at the many familiar places in the movie:

(video version from 8/12/11 5pm news)

Filmed at abandonded bank in Ludington, MI - "30 Minutes Or Less" photo courtesy Columbia Pictures

*Jesse Eisenberg’s “Nick” works for Vito’s Pizza (658 Fulton Street West, Grand Rapids, MI) - and the name stays – even on the shirts and the pizza boxes!!

*Nick drives down familiar red brick roads of Grand Rapids to deliver his pizzas and through Heritage Hill neighborhoods during other scenes

*Nick and Chet (Aziz Ansari) go shopping for “supplies” at the Family Dollar (730 28th Street Southwest, in Wyoming, MI)

*There’s a short scene at the “4 Star Gas” on Chicago Drive and Godfrey Avenue in Wyoming, MI across the street from the Holy Name of Jesus Church

*The big chase down Division Avenue (between Fulton Street and Wealthy Street)

On Division Avenue in Grand Rapids, "30 Minutes Or Less" courtesy Columbia Pictures

*The chase starts after the bank robbery which was actually filmed at a vacant Old Kent bank on James St. in Ludington, MI

*Danny McBride (Dwayne) and Nick Swardson (Travis) celebrate with “victory tacos” at Taco Boy and plan their next move (3475 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids)

*Brookside Elementary School (2505 Madison Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, MI) was used for the school in the movie

*Scenes over and around the Sixth Street Bridge (you may remember from “Caught in the Crossfire”)

*At the Brass Works Building on Monroe Avenue

*Train tracks near Wealthy Avenue

*DJ’s Cocktail Lounge on 28th Street (1740 28th St SE Grand Rapids, MI)

You might want to see the movie again to catch the locations or all the jokes within the story!

Video version from segment on EightWest: Behind the scenes of  “30 Minutes or Less”

Previous post on locations (6/23/11): New trailer for “30 Minutes or Less” includes chase scene down Division Avenue

The new trailer has hit the web  for the movie filmed in West Michigan last year (August through October).  The first trailer was a “red band” trailer (that means “R” rated).. but this one is going out to almost all audiences (except little kids).


“Setup” trailer online (caution: language)

March 25th, 2011 at 11:00 am by under Entertainment

First trailer for “Setup” goes online, movie may have December release

 ”Setup” filmed for several weeks in November/December 2010 in Grand Rapids and surrounding areas, including scenes outside Madcap Coffee in downtown Grand Rapids using stunt windows.

Cast includes Bruce Willis as mob boss “Biggs”, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson as “Sonny”, Ryan Phillippe is “Vincent”, while Brett Granstaff (replaced Jerry Ferrara) as ”Dave”.  

Director by Mike Gunther wrote the screenplay told me that in the movie, three guys (Sonny, Vincent, and Dave) rob a jeweler in rush hour traffic, then one of the three gets greedy and shoots the other two, leaving them for dead… one dies and one survives… the survivor comes back for revenge on the traitor.  Gunther describes Willis’ character (Biggs) as “the guy that … runs this town and everyone’s gotta go through him to get permission to do what these young guys have done basically and they didnt get permission so it all comes full circle”.

Also in the cast are Randy Couture as mobster “Petey”, Jenna Dewan (plays “Mia”), James Remar (is “William” in his 2nd movie filmed in Grand Rapids), Ambyr Childers (as “Hailey” in her 2nd of 4 movies filmed in West Michigan), Will Yun Lee (as “Joey”) and Susie Abromeit (as “Valerie”).

The movie is currently in post-production and appears to be scheduled for a December 2011 release… but we don’t yet know what kind of release that will be: a wide national release, a limited release, a regional release, or straight-to-DVD.   Producer Randall Emmett would like to bring the movie back to Grand Rapids for a red carpet screening, but it may be a little more difficult since their current production “Freelancers” had to move to New Orleans.

Check out the trailer here:

(Later, I will post stills from the trailer here)

The production of “Setup” began November 28th in Grand Rapids.  Gunther said that Grand Rapids will be the setting for the movie, he explained that (more…)

“Touchback” trailer hits the net

March 21st, 2011 at 2:28 pm by under Entertainment

First trailer for “Touchback” hits internet, waiting for release details

 ”Touchback” filmed for several weeks during the summer of 2010, mostly in Coopersville, but also in Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Ohio in Coshocton, Columbus, and Warsaw.

The cast includes Kurt Russell as the head coach, Brian Presley in lead role, Melanie Lynskey as his wife, Mark Blucas as a friend and teammate, Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Christine Lahti as the mother, Mark Ellis as opposition coach, Barry Sanders in a cameo role as an Assistant Coach, Drew Powell, Sarah Wright, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, and Kevin Covais also star.

Touchback is written/directed by Don Handfield.

The movie is still in post-production, but the production company’s website indicates a May 2011 release.  However, we do not have official word on if that will be a national release or limited release or at a film festival or straight-to-DVD.  I am told they are working on a release date and there are hopes for a Grand Rapids premiere.

Sorry, trailer was taken down. (Had to remove the trailer because  it was not for public consumption. It was intended for sales, as it was edited – it tells basically the whole story – so it was not meant for general audiences. The PR for the production tells me they will contact me when they have a *real* trailer.)

I have captured several stills from the trailer here click on thumbails for larger picture:

















Touchback is a fantastical story about


“Genesis Code” set for national release

February 9th, 2011 at 2:25 pm by under Entertainment

“The Genesis Code” will begin national release February 18th in 7 cities

 Producers tell me that after testing “The Genesis Code” in 10 locations throughout the fall, next week, they will begin the “first phase of a national rollout”. 

On February 18, “The Genesis Code” will be opening in Columbia South Carolina, Cincinnati, Peoria, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit and Holland and they are planning another run in Grand Rapids.   “The Genesis Code” will show at the AMC, Goodrich, and Carmike theater chains in those cities.  Jerry Zandstra, Vice President of American Epic Entertainment says “This is stage one of our national rollout with more to come in the subsequent weeks.”

“The Genesis Code” shot for five weeks during the summer of 2009 – on the campus of Calvin College, at the Patterson Ice Center, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, and locations in Walker, Lowell, and Wyoming.

The family drama is about a college hockey player and a female journalism student trying to find common ground between their spiritual faith and scientific studies. 

Logan Bartholomew and Kelsey Sanders play the lead characters “Blake” and “Kerry”.   The cast also includes Louise Fletcher, Ernest Borgnine, Fred Thompson, Rich Franklin, Lance Henriksen, Rance Howard, Catherine Hicks, C.R. Lewis, Susan Blakely, Adam Chambers, Ben Murphy, Jerry Zandstra, Roger Garcia, and Armon York Williams.

Previous posts (more…)

“Chaos” director opens Livonia movie studio

February 9th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by under Entertainment


New Mich. movie studio producing sci-fi thriller 

LIVONIA, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s latest movie studio is at work on what is being billed as one of the first CGI features made fully in the state. 

Maxsar Digital Studios is developing “Scar 23,” a
$16.5-million science-fiction thriller that utilizes
computer-generated images, the Detroit Free Press reported. 

According to The Detroit News, Maxsar has built a 55,000-sq. foot sound stage and renovated offices. 

The Livonia studio employs about 50 workers, WWJ-AM reported. By December, the studio hopes to employ 100 people. 

Maxsar CEO Philippe Martinez said Maxsar plans to make one CGI movie a year along with smaller films and will be looking for a U.S. distributor for “Scar 23,” which should be completed by March 2012. 

The movie’s story takes place in a futuristic Detroit, renamed Viamensa, which is the only city left after a nuclear apocalypse. (more…)