DETROIT (Reuters) - Detroit, which has long faced economic collapse and neighborhood abandonment, woke up on Monday to find itself under siege by a foreign army.
The army arrived with camera booms, military trucks, massive pennants and green camouflage extras for a remake of the 1984 action film “Red Dawn,” turning a normally lightly populated Motown intersection into a hub of activity.
Several blocks of downtown Detroit will be closed off for up to two weeks during the filming, which appeared to have little impact on traffic flow, but drew curiosity seekers on foot.
Michigan has wooed filmmakers to the state with incentives in a bid to diversify an economy that remains very dependent on the health of the still-struggling U.S. auto industry. Clint Eastwood filmed “Gran Torino” in the Detroit-area.
The Michigan statewide unemployment rate stood at 15.2 percent in August, with Detroit’s nearly double that.
“It is rough out here,” said Edwin Codwell, who stood nearby watching the filming. “It is tough out here for all of us and it is getting worse.”
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has been filming “Red Dawn” around the state for weeks. The filmmakers blew a car into the air near the downtown Detroit intersection on Monday and set off an explosion in a small Detroit building a week ago.
The original movie saw teenagers take to the hills to mount a guerrilla war after their small U.S. town was invaded by Cuban and Soviet soldiers in a Cold War theme.
In the new movie, the soldiers are from Russia and China, and Detroit serves as a kind of anytown USA stand-in for Spokane, Washington, and other places.
On Monday, passersby snapped cellphone pictures of military trucks and actors wearing green fatigues or officers uniforms reminiscent of past decades.
Paul Thomas, a student cycling to medical school, stopped to take a photo from the seat of his mountain bike. The street closings made his ride easier, he said. “They should shut it down more often.”
The movie is planned for release in November 2010.
Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte