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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Warner Bros Studio Tour, Part III

Last Fall, my wife and I took our teenage kids, and their two cousins, to the Warner Brothers Studios tour. Here's a couple of links to Part I and Part II of our time there. 

Half way through the tour, we stopped for 30 minutes or so at an on-site studio museum, featuring costumes, set design and models from the 2017 film Wonder Woman

Concept art from the 2017 Warner Bros film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Warner Brothers has been involved in bringing Batman to the big screen since the Michael Keaton / Jack Nicholson film in 1989. Actually, the earliest screen version of Batman dates back to the 1943 black and white 15 part serial, released by Columbia Pictures. 

Warner Brothers has been producing Superman films ever since the 1978 version starting Christopher Reeves and Gene Hackman. 

 My wife and I with our kids and their cousins in from early comic book versions of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the DC Comic gang. Apparently, a near perfect version of the orignal 1938 Superman Comic book sold in 2014 for $3.2 million. 

Back in the studio van: my son (left) now at San Diego State, and his cousin, now at Belmont University in Nashville. 

Passing by another studio tour. The 15 passenger electric car was similar to ours. 

The side of a building doubles for an outdoor set - featuring painted backdrops along with metal balcony and railings. 

Headed towards the outdoor New York Street sets - with the "backside" of the Hollywood Hills in the distance. The otherside of that hill is Hollywood proper. Warners Bros - along with Disney and Universal - are located in the San Fernando Valley, a few miles north of Hollywood. 

Brownstones on the left, theater on the right: New York Street. 

A better view of the theater. 

Another theater to the left. The metal railings along the tops of the buildings are for lighting and sound equipment - and a reminder that these building are false fronts.

Above, the facade used as the hotel where character Leon Kowalski lived in the 1982 Ridley Scott film Blade Runner

A couple of trailers in front of the theater set. 

The front - and back - of the New York Street sets. 

The grey building, the pillars, in the distance was used for numerous films and movies - including Gotham City Hall in the 1960's Batman TV series. Tight angles allowed for the Hollywood Hills to be blocked out. 

Movies and television shows that were filmed here include:


- Yankee Doodle Dandy 1942
- The Big Sleep 1946
- Blade Runner 1982
- Hotel 1983-1988
- Gremlins 2: The New Batch 1990
- Batman Returns 1992
- Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman 1993-1997
- E.R. 1994-2009
- Annie 1999
- Cloverfield 2008

- Argo 2012
- Jersey Boys 2014

Another tour rolling past us, with the faux "El" train track used in shows like ER

Another view of the "El" tracks. In the center of this photo, slightly obscured steel girder, was the entrance to Chicago General Hospital, from the ER television show. 


When my wife and I were at Warner Bros the first time back in 2008 (above), our tour included a lot of time walking around and exploring these ER sets. Here's a link to a previous post from time there. 

Warner Bros version of a Chicago Police Car, under the faux "El" tracks. 

The diner across the street. According to the website DiscoverLosAngeles.com

"In the mid-1990s, a large Chicago-themed set consisting of a hospital façade, an ambulance bay, and “L” tracks was constructed on the eastern edge of the WB’s New York Street for the filming of the television series ER. A diner façade was later built directly across from the hospital facade to mask as Doc Magoo’s, the after-work hangout of Doug, Mark and the rest of the Cook County General gang. Doc Magoo’s, which later became the Jumbo Mart, is a practical set and filming took place both outside and inside the structure. During ER’s 15-season run, emergency room and train station signage were posted on the various façades, making them instantly recognizable to tour-goers. Though those signs are no longer in place and despite some alterations, the edifices should still be familiar to fans of the series. Since ER went off the air in 2009, the Chicago sets have gone on to star in many other productions, including Pretty Little Liars. The Jumbo Mart most notably got a second life as both Kash and Grab and Patsy’s Pies on the Showtime hit Shameless."

More next time. 

© 2018 www.experiencingla.com 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Warner Bros Studio Tour, Part II


Last Fall, my wife and I took our teenage kids, and their two cousins, to the Warner Brothers Studios tour. Here's a link to Part I.


What struck us was how personal and hands on the tour was. Much of the tour involved getting out of the small 15 passenger electric carts, and walking around. Above, our tour guide pointing of specific movies and TV shows that had been filmed at these outdoor sets.


This outdoor set is called Midwest Street – an “Any Town USA” complete with a town square, center gazebo, church, church, brick courthouse, and store front businesses. Here's a list of some of the more memorable movies and TV shows that have been filmed here:

East of Eden (1955)
The Music Man (1962)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
The Shootist (1976) 
Dukes of Hazzard (1979-1985) 
Growing Pains (1985-1992)
Jack Frost (1998)
The Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) 
The Muppets (2011)
La La Land (2016)

As Warner Bros is an actual, working studio, we weren't allowed beyond this point. If we were here during actual filming, I'm we probably couldn't get this far. In that sense, no tour is exactly the same.


We walked inside one the of "homes" along the street.


I love that we could walk around, at least a bit, and explore the sets.

A view from inside and outside.

A reminder that these are not houses - but outdoors sets designed to look like them.

Heading out to the backyard area.

A final look inside.

Our tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable.

This outdoor set could be also used at night, or - with the help of some fake snow on the ground - designed to look like winter.

Next stop was one of the many massive sound stages.

Interesting that while the Warner Bros Studio lot has been here since 1926, but this sound stage was built in 1999. You can see a list of the movies and TV shows filmed here.

We headed inside. Currently in production was the TV show "Lethal Weapon". As per the tour policy there are a couple of places where cameras are completely off limits. Inside Stage 29 was one of them. I was able to find a few photos on another site - Cine Movie - to give an idea of what we were able to view inside (you can find additional photos on their site: 
 
photo credit: cinemovie.tv

 
photo credit: cinemovie.tv

 
photo credit: cinemovie.tv

 
photo credit: cinemovie.tv

Interesting fact: the seal of Los Angeles (pictured above) isn't the actual city seal. Legal issues keep the studio from using the real one. So instead, studio artists have created something that resembles the city seal, but is just different enough to avoid any legal entanglement.

I've never seen (or, sorry, even heard of) the TV show Lethal Weapon. Obviously, if I was a fan of the show, this part of the tour would have been even better. None the less, like the rest of our tour group, I found getting to walk around - and appreciate the stagecraft involved in bringing a show into production - fascinating.

Back outside, looking at the exterior of one of dozens of sound stages.

According the company website, at 421 acres, Warner Bros Studios "is considered one of the foremost motion picture and television production and post-production facilities in the world and home to 35 soundstages (including one of the world’s tallest stages, which has an in-ground tank capable of holding more than two million gallons of water).

I'll finish up with some additional captions later this weekend.

Heading towards the New York Street outdoor set. My wife and I were here in 2008. Here's a link to our tour, which spent time walking around that set. As mentioned, this is a working movie studio - verses, say, an amusement park. So each tour is slightly different.

The iconic Warner Bros water tower. I think every major Hollywood Studio has a water tower on property. In Warner Bros case, they actually have their own private fire department on site.

Paintings alongside the part of the studio that serves as a museum for the tour.

Here's a better view as we heading on inside. The museum is one of the few parts of the studio that's specifically dedicated to the tour, and features changing exhibits. When we were hear 10 years ago, I think it was Harry Potter.

The two amigos: my son (right) and his cousin (who lives just outside of Los Angeles). Both are now College Freshman.

The studio museum as featuring come of the costumes from Batman ...

... and Wonder Woman - which has just been released a few months earlier.

More next time.

 © 2018 www.experiencingla.com

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Warner Brothers Studio Tour, Part I


Last October, were back in Los Angeles visiting family and took time to visit the Warner Brothers Studios. It was our son's 17th birthday, and thought it might be fun to connect with his cousins (who had recently returned from living overseas for several years) and experience something new and different is Los Angeles.


Back in 2008, when we were living in Los Angeles, my wife and had a chance to visit Warner Bros. Here's a link

Back then, our kids were too young to go on the tour. The tour actually has a minimum age limit of 8 years old. Which is a good thing. It's not that it's so scary or inappropriate. It just that younger kids would be bored. If you're thinking about visiting, as a parent I'd suggest a minimum age of 13. Actually, 15+ would be ideal.  


Unlike Universal, Warner Brothers is not a theme park. It's a real working studio. Every tour is different. Some areas might be off limits due to current production. Other times, you can literally get out and touch the sets. And, as the groups are limited to just 14 people, you can ask lots of questions. 


As I shared in a previous post, our experience at Universal was less than stellar. You can read my review here. In contrast, we really enjoyed our time at Warner Brothers. 


The first stop was the New York styled "Hennesy Street" sets. 


Hundreds of movies, television shows, and commercials have been filmed here. 


BugsyDick TraceySpidermanBatmanRentMinority Report ... 


... Annie, Yankee Doodle Dandy, and many other movie were all filmed here. 


While we were able to get out and explore a couple of outdoor sets later in our tour, we noticed a group walking along Hennesy Street. My guess is that they were part of the longer (and more expensive) tour. 


Our tour guide was an encyclopedia of information. No way I could take it all it - and I mean that in a good way. 


View from our tour cart (which felt like an extended electric golf cart). 


Look out and up towards the alley. 


Looking back on Hennesy Street.


A final view before moving on. 


Several of the offices on the lot are designed to be re-purposed for movies or TV shows. This can double as an public library or government building. 


More offices, which can double for a motel or suburban apartment building. 


These offices look like, well, offices. We were there on a Saturday. I'm curious what this looks like when they're actually filming something out front. When we lived in Los Angeles several years back, we had a chance to see "on location" filming in several L.A. neighborhoods. Here's a good example (filmed along Sunset Blvd) from the 2009 drama It's Complicated (which, no I did not see). 


Continuing on into the jungle section. 


This is where the infamous scene from Jurassic Park where the T Rex was chasing the jeep was filmed. Obviously, the final product was more exciting than driving through a few hundred yards of trees. 


Warner Village. According to TheStudioTour.com: "This collection of residential houses was built in 2004 on the site of the from Laramie Street Western sets, with a crescent shaped residential street set in a woodland environment. This set has eleven two-story homes in a variety of styles, sidewalks, plush green lawns, driveways and garages. From certain angles you have the Hollywood Hills as your backdrop and from others lush established trees and a small neighborhood park."


The Warner Bros Bridge Building - which is a yet another office building on the studio property According to our tour guide, it's entrance is often used for exterior shots of hospitals.  


Which looks, well, exactly, like a hospital. My understanding is the name is based on the fact this area is a "bridge" between the backlots and sound stages. 

More next time


© 2018 www.experiencingla.com