Anticipated D-Day Launch of World War II film "Little Boy"

Locals hope this will refocus spotlight on underutilized Baja Film Studios, Rosarito

ROSARITO.-The long-awaited and much-anticipated feature film, "Little Boy" — shot at Baja Film Studios, Rosarito and at nearby Baja locations — will have its U.S. premiere on June 6, 2014 in a limited release, to open wider later, according to the International Movie Data Base (IMDB) and confirmed by sources involved with the production.

The United States limited release date commemorates the 70th anniversary of the D-Day allied invasions of June 6, 1944, when one of the greatest military interventions in history was launched across the Channel onto the Normandy beaches, 150,000 men strong, to signal the beginning of the end of World War II's European theater of operations.

For the movie, an entire town named "O'Hare," as it would have looked in the early 1940's in northern California, was constructed for the film on the back lot of the Baja Studios, Rosarito, where such mega-blockbusters as "Titanic," "Master and Commander" and "Pearl Harbor" were filmed.

The town of O'Hare's young men have gone off to war and the old folks, women and school children are about all that is left to keep things going.

There is a harbor, lighthouse and a working port with fish market and cannery.

There is the main street, with its movie theater and city hall and row of clapboard fishermen's houses. There is also the town school where the "little boy" of the movie's title, is mercilessly teased because of his short stature and his belief that through faith he can bring his father back home alive from World War II.

Shot in a visual style called "stretched" photorealism by the film's director, the hyper–saturation and concentration of detail in each frame resembles something one might find in a Norman Rockwell painting from a Saturday Evening Post cover plate from the 1940's – with meticulous attention paid to the composition of each frame: the décor, costumes and placement of objects and colors in painterly fashion.

Those who have seen private screenings of the film have called it "heartbreakingly beautiful."

Little Boy promotional image
Little Boy promotional image

Principal photography for "Little Boy" was completed in 2012 and during post-production several promising events transpired. The film's director, Alejandro Monteverde, was signed by the powerhouse Creative Artists Agency (CAA) on the strength of his first feature film, "Bella," which took — among other prizes — the "People's Choice Award" at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival.

Next, mega-producer Mark Burnett enthusiastically signed on as executive producer in charge of "Little Boy's" launch and distribution strategy.

Burnett has been named one of the world's most influential people by Time Magazine. Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, produced the 10-hour drama series "The Bible" for the History Channel that recorded more than 100 million viewers worldwide.

He is also the creator of "Survivor," "The Apprentice," "Shark Tank" and "The Voice," among numerous other television productions.

So how did two Mexicans and an anglo-hispanic lawyer end up making an English language true-blue American movie set in 1940's small town America with a name like "Little Boy"?

It began ten years ago in Los Angeles during a chance meeting at a bible study class between Alejandro Monteverde, a University of Texas Film School graduate from Tamaulipas, Mexico, and Leo Severino, an entertainment lawyer at Fox.

Also present that day was Eduardo Verástegui, a well-known star of Mexican soap operas, also from Tamaulipas, who had likewise reached a turning point in his career.

In refusing the Latino stereotypes that were being offered to him in Hollywood

— gigolos, dope dealers, pimps and gangsters

— he was on the verge of never working again unless, as he put it, it was something his mother and sister could watch and be proud of.

"Hollywood belongs to God," he has said, "and we are going to take it back."

With that in mind, the three formed Metanoia Films and Severino and Monteverde wrote the screenplay for their first feature film, "Bella," which starred Verástegui.

"Metanoia," means "repentance" in New Testament Greek, and the production company was conceived to embrace enduring themes and timeless values – a conscious, and unapologetic, throw-back to an earlier kind of Hollywood film-making.

"Bella" went on to receive the Tony Bennett Media Excellence Award.

Bennett has called Bella "an artistic masterpiece that will live in people's hearts forever."

On the strength of this success, the three teamed-up for Metanoia's second production, "Little Boy," which was shot in Rosarito with a cast starring Kevin James, Emma Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Michael Rapaport, and a cast of more than 600 extras from a pool coming from as far away as Texas, Arizona and northern California but which relied most heavily on the local Rosarito expat community of retirees, wives and children.

The boon to the local economy during principal photography of the $24 million film was palpable and was felt up and down the Gold Coast, but especially in Rosarito and La Mision.

If the film "Little Boy" is a big hit, as some have predicted, it is hoped that the international attention generated from its success will bring more feature film and commercial production work to the historically under-utilized Baja Film Studios, Rosarito.

Built on 46 acres in 1996 as "Fox Film Studios" expressly for the film "Titanic," the studio boasts some of the world's largest water tanks and sound stages, together with the necessary offices, scenery shops, dressing rooms and wardrobe facilities to make it a completely "turnkey" operation.

When a new generation of international film-makers realizes that just a few hours to the south of Hollywood there is greater "bang for the buck" available in a state-of-the-art film studio with a tremendous talent pool of local carpenters, craft workers, artists, painters, electricians and extras worthy of any facility in the world – it is hoped that new productions will flock to Rosarito, where a resort infrastructure of superior hotel accommodations and first-rate restaurants are plentiful as an additional enticement.

Further, since 2010, former Mexican president Felipe Calderon announced the creation of a film support program which provides a 17.5 percent rebate subsidy to foreign producers on any money spent in Mexico on both production and post-production work.

With famous weather, great beaches, a low cost-of-living and beautiful sunsets thrown in for free, Baja Film Studios, Rosarito presents a strong magnet of attraction for film-makers everywhere looking for the best of both worlds – just south of the border.

VIDEO : Behind the scenes "Little Boy"



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