ROSARITO BEACH English actors Emily Watson and Ben Chaplin will star in the movie "Little Boy," to be produced by Eduardo Verástegui at Baja Film Studios, where "Titanic" was filmed.
Verástegui announced the $24 million film project Monday morning at the studio in the community of Popotla, flanked by Baja California Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán, Secretary of Tourism Juan Tintos and the mayors of the state's five municipalities.
The officials estimated that the film would bring about $14 million to the state's economy.
"Little Boy" tells the story of youngster who does all he can to be reunited with his father, a soldier fighting in World War II. The movie will shoot for eleven weeks at the Baja Film Studios as well as in locations in Tijuana, Tecate and Ensenada, said Verástegui.
"Things will happen in this adventure that will make you reflect and laugh, and whose powerful ending will touch your heart," said the producer. "It's a story for grownups told from a boy's perspective."
Verástegui, a native of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, is a model, pop singer and actor, performing in Spanish and English. The actor also has his own production company, Metanoia Films. He said he decided to make an English-language film to build the credibility of Mexican producers in Hollywood.
"In today's world, if you want to send a message to the entire world, it's in English and the platform is Hollywood," he said. "The effort, the work is the same but it's easier for our message to be heard."
Verástegui said his production team had selected Baja Film Studios because of the wide range of options available there.
"We were clear that we had to film in Mexico," he said. "After going round and round, we decided that re-creating a tiny town in front of the sea was perfect here. Besides, we live in Los Angeles."
The film's director, Alejandro Monteverde, said that a water tank used for some scenes in "Titanic" will be used in the new film to re-create Hiroshima after it was attacked with a nuclear bomb.
The filmmakers said that a total of 600 people will be hired for the production team, including the so-called "Titanic" generation that made the James Cameron global blockbuster "Titanic."
A few weeks ago a casting call went out for 2,000 extras from both sides of the border who will be used in the film, which is to be released in 2012.
The 35-acre studio was built in 1996 by 20th Century Fox to make "Titanic," which eventually won 11 Academy Awards. The facility includes four tanks, which can hold a combined 20 million gallons of water, plus stages, dressing rooms and offices, along with about 2,000 feet of ocean front.
Movies filmed there include "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," "Pearl Harbor," "In Dreams," "Deep Blue Sea" and the James Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies." Television shows, commercials and videos also were shot there.
In 2000, the facility became a theme park, Foxploration, with new exhibits that focused on moviemaking.
Seven years later, Fox sold the studios to Baja Acquisitions, a group of local investors for an undisclosed sum. They called their facility Baja Film Studios. (www.bajafilmstudios.com)
For his part, Verástegui, 37, is best known as a handsome leading man in Mexican telenovelas, including "Alma Rebelde." He once was as model in a video by Jennifer Lopez. In the United States, his work included guest roles in "Charmed" and "CSI: Miami" and a co-starring part in the 2004 film "Chasing Papi."