Senate hopefuls and world-renowned writers aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the great space at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. In spring of 2011, crews from Columbia Pictures’ comedy “Here Comes the Boom” spent a week filming the movie’s mixed martial arts fight scenes in the arena, becoming the second major motion picture (after the infamous Lowell-based film, “The Fighter”) to do so.
What was the big deal?
- Big names – stars included Kevin James, Henry Winkler and Salma Hayek.
- Big crowds – a call for 700 extra actors per day was put out through area casting agencies.
- Big food – Aramark’s contract to provide three squares for the cast and crew meant tons of sandwiches, cold drinks, salads and cookies every day.
The film, starring James as Scott Voss, a high school biology teacher who moonlights as a mixed-martial arts fighter in an effort to raise money to save the school’s music program, brought a bit of Hollywood glam to downtown Lowell.
“The film crew was terrific – very self-sufficient and professional,” said then general manager of the Tsongas Center. “They’ve done this all before – it’s a process they’ve got down pat.”
A sneak peek into the filming area showed the ring, and crew members lugging around what at first appeared to be dead bodies – but were actually fake people who help fill in the crowd scenes with the 700 extras. A large bin filled with clothes for the fake people sat next to an enormous buffet for the cast and crew. Different food stations were provided for the members of the Screen Actors’ Guild, and the major stars each had a trailer on the lot outside of the arena. The extensive lighting, cameras and signs demanding quiet on the set completely transformed the arena to a professional set.
While Henry Winkler told the Lowell Sun that he tweeted about the unseasonably cool June weather in Lowell, he also praised the area’s warm people and great food.
“Here Comes the Boom” opens in theaters Friday, Oct. 12.