Hollywood Alaska

The formerly "Everybody Loves Whales," - now called "Big Miracle," the first major, modern movie filmed entirely in Alaska is about to hit theaters. The tale of serial killer Robert Hansen, starring John Cusack and Nicolas Cage, filmed in Anchorage this fall. Other major-studio films are considering an Alaska shoot, even as an army of reality TV camera crews continues to prowl the state. Producers credit the state’s fledgling tax incentive program – one of the most generous such public subsidies in the country – with enticing movie-makers to the Last Frontier. How long will the gold rush last? Is the state getting a big enough return on its investment? Welcome to Hollywood, Alaska.

Why isn't 'Race to Save Nome' being filmed in Alaska? - 11/14/2012 10:37 am

'Frozen Ground' awarded $6.3 million, few new features in view - 8/29/2012 1:11 pm

Casting call: You, and the person you most want to punch in the face - 6/29/2012 11:10 am

Disney documentary-makers approved for Alaska feature - 6/28/2012 12:03 pm

Todd Palin joins military-themed reality show - 6/19/2012 9:51 am

PHOTOS: A first look at 'Frozen Ground' - 5/28/2012 6:59 pm

Barrow-based 'On the Ice' hits iTunes - 5/14/2012 4:42 pm

‘Twilight: Eclipse’ director tapped for Alaska-based thriller - 5/14/2012 10:42 am

Gerard Butler submarine thriller 'Hunter Killer' applies to film in state

'THIS ... IS ... WHITTIER!': Leonidas + submarines + Alaska = "Hunter Killer?" The movie is about to be pre-approved for an Alaska tax credit, though Relativity Media says the filmmakers have also considered other locations. (Warner Bros. photo.)'THIS ... IS ... WHITTIER!': Leonidas + submarines + Alaska = "Hunter Killer?" The movie is about to be pre-approved for an Alaska tax credit, though Relativity Media says the filmmakers have also considered other locations. (Warner Bros. photo.)

From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --

A big-budget military thriller about an American submarine captain's attempt to rescue the Russian president will soon be pre-approved for filming in Alaska, the state says.

The Relativity Media film, currently called "Hunter Killer," is in the planning stages. Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “Shooter") is expected to direct with Gerard Butler (“300”) in talks to star, Variety reports.

A producer for the film has described the movie as a $50 million to $100 million project. In other words: Two or three times the size of "Big Miracle."

The state film office received the producers' request to pre-qualify "Hunter Killer" for the Alaska film incentive about a month ago, said Wanetta Ayers, director of the state Economic Development Division.

The state will likely approve the application soon, she said. “It would be the largest incentive ever awarded under the program."

"We just approved, or are in the beginning stages of approval, for four or five applications, including two feature films," Ayers said.

A pre-qualification does not mean that the movie will definitely shoot in Alaska. A spokeswoman for Relativity declined to comment for this story. Producers have also applied to film in other locations, according to the company.

As always, plans for filming locations -- and even whether the movie will be made -- could change at any moment.

The "Hunter Killer" script is based on the novel “Firing Point,” by George Wallace and Don Keith, according to Variety:

“(The) story follows an untested submarine captain who must work with a Navy SEAL team to rescue Russia's president, who's taken prisoner during a military coup. The two sides team to stop a rogue Russian general from igniting WWIII."

Butler was in talks to play the commander of the USS Toledo, the trade magazine reported.

A producer on the film, Jeff Waxman, told the Daily News this month that he hoped to make an action-thriller in Alaska. Filming would begin later this year, he said.

Waxman said he toured Whittier and other Alaska locations in January. "They rolled out the red carpet for us,” he said of the isolated, waterside town.

If you wanted a place that looks relatively Russian in Southcentral Alaska, you could do a lot worse than Whittier. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News photo.)If you wanted a place that looks relatively Russian in Southcentral Alaska, you could do a lot worse than Whittier. (Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News photo.)

He declined to name the film or talk about the plot at the time, but said the state film incentive, now under debate, was key to the project. “’Big Miracle’ went up there and ‘Frozen Ground,’ but this would be a bigger movie,” he said. “And if we can pull it off, which I think we can, people would want to come back.”

Anchorage production company SprocketHeads is working with the film-makers and will be handling all local questions about the project, said owner Carolyn Robinson. She declined to talk in detail about the film.

“I am elated and proud!” Robinson wrote in an email. “We'll be posting approved Hunter Killer updates on the SprocketHeads Facebook site.”

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