TUPPER LAKE - The big deal at Big Tupper this spring has nothing to do with a resort.
Paramount Pictures is filming part of "Ninja Turtles," the upcoming movie reboot of the popular 1980s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, at the dormant Big Tupper Ski Area this month.
The movie is mainly being shot in New York City, but Paramount went to the state to find a ski slope where it would be able to shoot part of the action, said village Mayor Paul Maroun.
Posted signs tell visitors to stay out of the Big Tupper Ski Area while a movie is being filmed there.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
"They needed a ski resort that was closed," Maroun said. "Big Tupper fit it perfectly."
The cast and crew are mainly housed at the Best Western hotel in Saranac Lake, but they are also renting some houses and motels in the area, Maroun said. The group will be up to about 80 people at maximum.
The crew has worked to keep most of their purchasing local, using local catering and other local vendors and goods as much as possible.
Town Supervisor Roger Amell said at last week's board meeting that the crew plans to spend about a half-million dollars locally.
"It's going to bring a lot of money into the area," Maroun said. "We're glad to have them. We'd like to have more movies in the Tupper Lake area."
He noted that "Ninja Turtles" is the third movie being filmed in Tupper Lake in recent years. The teen horror movie "Recreator" was recorded entirely in the area in 2009. Then Paul Giamatti brought a film crew to Park Street in spring 2012 to shoot a film that was at the time being called "Lucky Dog," but is now referred to on the Internet Movie Database as "Almost Christmas."
"That's great," Maroun said. "I mean, maybe this will become the movie haven, too, so we can add that to 'The Crossroads of the Adirondacks.' I think it's great PR for Tupper Lake and the area."
Big Tupper is closed to the public while the film crews are working there, with "posted" signs at the entryway. Jim LaValley, who has close ties to the Adirondack Club and Resort developers who own the property, said recently that there will be security at the mountain to ensure the movie crew's property is safe.
"The public is asked to stay away," LaValley said.
Parts of the film crew came to check out the location in December and have been here working since maybe early February, LaValley said. But the main shooting happens next week.
"It's a beehive of activity up there now," but there will be more next week, he said.
After shooting, they go into restoration mode and put things back the way they were.
Paramount is paying the resort developers, who own the property, what LaValley calls a minimal location fee.
Not the reason for closing
LaValley said the movie is not the reason that Big Tupper didn't open for this ski season. He is the head of ARISE, the nonprofit organization that operated the ski area for the previous three ski seasons on a mostly volunteer basis. The organization decided last fall it didn't have the money to open for the 2012-13 ski season.
He said the movie had "absolutely nothing to do with it.
"That is circulating around town that that was the reason," LaValley said. "The bottom line is we had no money. ... Our misfortune ended up being our fortune."
He said the closure of the ski area happened to be in the news around the time when the state was helping Paramount find a location, so it caught the eye of the people looking.
According to IMDb, the movie is set to be released June 6, 2014. Michael Bay, of "Transformers" fame, is the main producer, Jonathan Liebesman is directing, and the only actor listed so far on IMDb is Megan Fox, playing the Turtles' reporter friend, April O'Neil.
Fox, a 27-year-old star who is often referred to as "sultry," worked with Bay on several of the "Transformers" movies.
She may not make an appearance in the Tri-Lakes, though. Village police Chief Eric Proulx said he had meetings with the movie's location management crew about security.
"I asked if anyone significantly famous was coming to Tupper Lake, and they told me, 'No,'" Proulx said.
Proulx said that when Giamatti was in town last year, many locals were out on Park Street to try to catch a glimpse of the celebrity, so he was concerned about the security that would be needed if another celebrity makes an appearance.
The movie crew originally sought out village police officers to work as set security when they aren't on duty, which Proulx said he approved, but he's not sure he has enough officers to make that happen.
"I'm understaffed here," he said.
His understanding was that they were going to approach state police about providing security for the film instead since Big Tupper is located outside the village, but he said that may have changed. A state police officer at the Tupper Lake barracks this morning said he personally wasn't doing any security for the movie, but he wasn't sure if others were.
The film crew is also using the town's golf course for parking and for a dressing room area for three days of filming, Amell said last week.
They also plan to use the course's driving range to land a helicopter, Amell said.
"They wanted to land on the fairway, and I said, 'No,'" Amell said.
Paramount plans to make a $1,000 donation to the town's cross-country ski program at the mountain in return for the use, Amell said.
The "Ninja Turtles" movie has created controversy because Bay has said the script will reveal that the four turtles come from outer space. This idea has met the ire of Ninja Turtle purists, who remember the Turtles' creation story from the original cartoon series: Toxic sludge flowed into New York City sewers and mutated normal turtles into ones that are more human-like, with a penchant for pizza and partying.
Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.