Come July Zac Efron will be in Marblehead if the stars align, making his first movie since bowing out of Paramount Pictures’ “Footloose” remake. The 21-year-old phenom whose “17 Again” opens naturally enough on the 17th surprised the industry by bailing on the Efron-centric “Footloose,” a musical which had been tailored primarily as his showcase. He wanted to do “something different,” he told me this past Sunday at L.A.’s Four Seasons hotel. Burr Steers, his “17 Again” helmer, will again direct Efron in an adaptation of the novel “The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud.” “It takes place in Marblehead and we hope to film there this July,” Steers, who is a nephew of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and a former actor, told me of the story about a young man traumatized by a death. “Is it like Timothy Hutton in ‘Ordinary People’?” I asked. “A bit,” he said, adding “There are ghosts and it is a demanding role, perfect for Zac.”
However, now The Daily Item paper out of Lynn, Massachusetts is reporting that Universal has opted to film in Vancouver, BC.
Zac Efron, heartthrob star of "High School Musical" 1, 2 and 3 and "17 Again," won't be coming to Marblehead anytime soon.
Ephron [sic] has been mentioned for the lead role in the movie version of Ben Sherwood's novel "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud," which takes place in Marblehead.
Charlie is the caretaker at Waterside Cemetery, haunted by the ghost of his younger brother as he tries desperately to save the life of his sailor girlfriend. The book, Sherwood's second novel, has been praised for tackling themes of death, love and forgiveness and rumors have been flying about the filming all winter.
Selectman William Woodfin broke the sad news Wednesday.
"They're not coming to Marblehead to make the film," he said. Referring to a lot of discussion in Hollywood about the artistic integrity of the project and the current state of the economy, Woodfin said the final decision was to film in Vancouver. Vancouver is on the Pacific Coast in British Columbia, about as far from Marblehead as the filmmakers can get.
"Universal Pictures looked at the bottom line and said it's not going to happen," Woodfin summed up. "Vancouver is not going to look like Marblehead."
"Given the state of the economy Universal should have stayed here," said Selectman Judy Jacobi.
Town Administrator Tony Sasso credited Woodfin with a Herculean telephone effort on behalf of Marblehead as a film location. In fact, when asked Thursday who was going to star in the film Sasso said, "Bill Woodfin."
I'm not at all surprised. Vancouver is a lot cheaper (by far I'm sure), has a much more established film industry and is probably easier to access. The downside to access is, of course, the privacy Zac would have gained in Marblehead will be completely lacking in Vancouver.
If they are filming in the summer it won't be too rainy. There are a few places slightly north of Vancouver that might work well enough as Marblehead, though on the whole I don't think there is any real substitute for Marblehead with its many colonial structures. In fact, I wonder if they'll just change the story to be set around Seattle or something. It would eliminate the need for an accent, sailing is popular there too, and the Mariners work just as well as a baseball team as the Red Sox (though with admittedly less history).
Ahh, well, wait and see, as usual.
ETA: I've been meaning to mention also that the project is currently listed on imdb here under Untitled Burr Steers Project.