'Wild' night in Portland
Red carpet rolls out at Cinema 21
Adoring fans gawking from across the street? Check.
Media gaggle on the red carpet? Check.
Hiking boots worn by Portlands ever-fashionable mayor and first lady? Check.
Mondays red-carpet event and Portland premiere of the much-anticipated Wild movie was a little bit of Hollywood, a lot of Portland.
While the Cinema 21 premiere on busy Northwest 21st Avenue caused quite a spectacle, fans were oh-so-courteous and didnt disrupt traffic.
The mostly local reporters and film critics as well as a presence by The Seattle Times, Entertainment Tonight and Rolling Stone were genuinely thrilled to be there, since the words Portland and red carpet arent often uttered in the same sentence.
We should have a drinking game where if anyone we think is Reese Witherspoon comes in, we drink, one of the servers at a nearby bar was overheard saying.
Just as star-struck as the city is over the movie and its potential to put Portland and Oregon on the map for other major motion pictures the people behind Wild are gaga over us, too.
A lot of people around the country dont realize what Portland has to offer, says Will Cuddy, the 22-year-old recent University of Oregon graduate who plays Witherspoons brother, Josh, in the film.
An alum of Jesuit High School, Cuddy lives Beaverton, where he grew up, while working on the show Grimm, his first big role in a TV series.
As for tourism, Cuddy guesses the movie will have what hes calling the Wild effect: People will see the film and want to come visit.
Hence the create-your-own Wild trip on Travel Oregon.
I think itll be huge, Cuddy says of the trickle-down effect. The movie is a big gift to Oregon, adds Jan Hoag, a longtime Hollywood actress who plays Annette in the movie and happens to be a Portland native.
The Fox Searchlight film was shot last year in Oregon with more than 200 cast and crew and 600 extras. About 150 local vendors helped with shoots throughout the state.
The film adapts the 2012 memoir by Portland author Cheryl Strayed, who became an instant celebrity after Oprah picked it for her book club.
Just like the book, the movie is not a fluffy, feel-good story, but details the raw, emotional turmoil Strayed dealt with during her 1,100-mile solo hike in the 1990s just after the death of her mother. Its as much a mental and spiritual journey as a physical one.
We shot in Ashland, South Bend, Mt. Hood and everywhere in between, Bruna Papandrea, producer of Wild, told the Tribune Monday night. Its like a beautiful ad for Oregon. Its so beautiful. We will definitely come back here again.
Laura Dern, who plays Witherspoons mother, Bobbi, especially noted the complete generosity of the people of this town.
Its Cheryls town, she added.
Strayed says she sought Witherspoon to portray her in the film because of her authenticity and depth as an actress.
Witherspoons daughter, Bobbi, plays Strayed as a young girl.
Nothing means more to me than this premiere, Strayed told the Tribune Monday night, ditching her old boots and hiking gear for shiny black pumps and a hot pink dress.
Its home. Its full of the people whove welcomed us. I was proud of my city and state. The cast and crew fell in love with the people, the places, the restaurants.
In particular, Strayed says, Witherspoon became a huge fan of Pok Poks chicken wings, and some of the cast spent a good amount of time at Tasty n Alder earlier on Monday.
Strayed hopes Portlanders come out and support the film when it opens here on Friday, Dec. 12.
According to Deadline magazine which tracks Hollywoods entertainment news Wild opened with solid box-office numbers lat weekend, showing in 21 theaters with $630,000 in gross sales.
By Dec. 12, it will be playing in 100 theaters, and it will be in as many as 900 by Christmas.
Impressive indie films
At first it seemed like a curious choice, setting Monday nights screening of the movie at Cinema 21.
The 88-year-old independent theater on Northwest 21st Avenue is tiny, hardly big enough for the mobs of press and VIPs wanting to attend.
Yet this is hardly the first big star-studded event its seen. The indie hub has hosted tons of Portland premieres of classics such as Drugstore Cowboy, The Thin Blue Line, Slacker, Hearts of Darkness, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, There Will Be Blood, The Wrestler, Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood and others.
Filmmakers to grace Cinema 21 include some of the greatest, to any film geek: Steven Soderbergh, Wim Wenders, Richard Linklater, Mark Duplass, Russ Meyer, Gus Van Sant, Miranda July, Todd Haynes, Mike Birbiglia and Tommy Wiseau.
In September, Tom Ranieri, owner of the theater since 1987, raised $73,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to replace the auditoriums worn seats, part of an ongoing effort to modernize the theater.
No one has done more for independent films in Portland and Oregon than Tom Ranieri, says Portland documentary filmmaker Brian Lindstrom, who is Strayeds husband. This is our cinematic home. We wanted to honor him.
Lindstroms own films have shown at Cinema 21; he has a new project in the works documenting the stories of incarcerated women reconnecting with their families at the Coffee Creek womens prison in Wilsonville.
Cinema 21 also is a hub for the Portland International Film Festival, Portland Queer Film Festival and other events.
Mayor Charlie Hales and first lady Nancy Hales attended the Portland premiere, practically floating down the red carpet in anticipation of the event.
Strayed is a good family friend, Hales says, and hes eager to bring more standout writers and stories to the big screen with the state and city as a backdrop.
Besides Portlandia which premieres its fifth season in January Grimm and Leverage have been huge hits, in addition to a large number of one-off shows filmed in and around Portland.
Oregons stunning and diverse landscapes played a crucial part in landing this role for Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber said in a statement. When a destination such as Oregon is featured so prominently in a film, it can bring much-needed economic impact to rural areas through cast and crew expenditures and increased tourism, which can lead to more jobs for Oregonians throughout the state.
On Twitter @jenmomanderson