Hollywood film brings big bucks to Bartlesville

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 9/24/2012 7:15 pm Published: 9/24/2012 4:55 pm

It was lights, camera action Monday in Bartlesville, as filming began on the Hollywood movie "August: Osage County."

The big-budget film features stars including George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Marryl Streep.

But before it even makes it to the silver screen, it was already proving to be a hit in Bartlesville.

Filming is scheduled to continue into late November. During the two-month filming period the Oklahoma Film Commission estimated the movie would bring a $37 million economic impact to the state.

Two years ago Bartlesville got its Hollywood debut when another film crew came to town. That movie brought about $15 million in economic impact, and it was a small-budget film.

"August: Osage County" came to Bartlesville with a lot more money to spend.

"They're using vendors, anything you can think of from printers to maybe an IT guy, to construction, carpentry, those kind of things," Maria Gus, Executive Director of the Bartlesville Convention & Visitors Bureau, said.

Housing the cast and crew is a big part of the movie income. More than 5,000 hotel room nights were booked in Bartlesville during the filming, at an estimated cost of $750,000. Others decided to rent homes to stay in during the filming. More than 30 homes were rented, at an estimated cost of $60,000.

Everyone working on the movie has to eat, too, which is keeping local restaurants busy.

"We've been a lot busier than normal," Susan Miller, owner of The Rolling Pin Bakery and Deli, said. "We fix box lunches for them that they'll call in and order."

Miller said her bakery isn't the only restaurant rolling in the dough these days.

"I think they're all feeling a little bit more busy than usual," She said.

The presence of the movie stars has also brought star gazers from across the region, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the actors. The extra visitors are also packing in restaurants.

"People do come in and they want to know if we've spotted any stars."

Miller said she's just happy to have the boost in business.

"You have to make sure that you're taking care of your regulars, because they'll be here after everybody's gone," she said. "But, you just pick up the pace, you hire a little more help if you need to, you put in a few more hours."

After all, she said, the payout is worth it.

"In the long run, might make a better vacation."

Other home and business owners have made money off the film as well. Some have even been paid to keep their lawn green. However, most were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements and couldn't share any details of their dealings with the film crew.

Gus said a second movie being filmed in Bartlesville in just two years means the entire area will likely continue to feel the impact long after the stars are gone.

"We've had an increase in followers on Facebook and Twitter," she said. "So, they're learning more about what makes us a great community."

The Oklahoma Film Commission provides big rebates as incentives for producers to film movies in Oklahoma. "August: Osage County" will get back a little more than $5 million, but it's estimated that the state will still come out ahead by more than $32 million.

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