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'Jack Reacher' makes low-key entrance for Pittsburgh debut

| Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, 10:09 p.m.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
People enter the South Side Works for the premier of Jack Reacher on Wednesday, December 19, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
A crowd of moviegoers works its way into the SouthSide Works on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, for the U.S. premiere of “Jack Reacher,” starring Tom Cruise. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
People enter the South Side Works for the premier of Jack Reacher on Wednesday, December 19, 2012. Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Tom Cruise speaks Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012, at SouthSide Works Cinema at premiere of “Jack Reacher.”

Just like the slick character he plays in the film “Jack Reacher,” Tom Cruise entered through a side door of the SouthSide Works Cinema Wednesday night for a more somber U.S. premiere of the movie filmed in Pittsburgh.

It drew 1,400 people in nine theaters in the multiplex.

“I loved shooting here,” said Cruise, who spoke to guests in each theater. “Everyone was so warm and gracious. I hope you are proud of how your city looks. It is an amazing city.”

It was a premiere that lacked the fanfare of a Hollywood red carpet and the usual lineup of stars. But Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie returned to welcome theater patrons and introduce the movie.

What was to have been a splashy event initially scheduled for Saturday was postponed hours after a gunman in Newtown, Conn., went on a rampage Friday in an elementary school, killing 20 children and six adults.

Paramount said it delayed the showing “out of honor and respect for the families of the victims whose lives were senselessly taken.”

McQuarrie said they did not feel it was appropriate to celebrate anything last weekend, but he and Cruise wanted to come back and “thank all of you,” he told the audience.

McQuarrie thanked city leaders, the Pittsburgh Film Office, firefighters and police, as well as residents who allowed photo shoots in their neighborhoods.

He said he has never known people to work harder on a film. Everything he asked for he was given, McQuarrie said, from closing streets, tunnels and bridges to using people's homes for scenes.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl was in attendance.

“I want to thank Tom Cruise for supporting Pittsburgh,” he said. “This means a great deal to us. We are becoming the Hollywood of the East.”

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Cruise and McQuarrie made the correct decision to postpone the premiere.

Moviegoers were lined up an hour and a half before the scheduled 7 p.m. start.

“(Wednesday) was more of a subdued event, but it is something that really helps our city in terms of jobs,” Fitzgerald said. “This city works hard at that and we have a lot to offer filmmakers.”

The action film begins with a chilling scene of a sniper gunning down five people outside PNC Park from a parking garage across the Allegheny River. It is a scene the filmmaker returns to again and again as the investigation is pursued.

In light of last week's carnage, the movie's violence takes on a more heartrending quality. But it is not all death and destruction. McQuarrie added some humor and intrigue to the story line.

“Jack Reacher,” based on the Lee Child thriller “One Shot,” opens nationwide on Friday. The movie also stars Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo and Robert Duvall.

The movie, with an estimated $50 million budget, was shot entirely in Pittsburgh, from October 2011 through January.

The filmmakers wanted to thank Pittsburgh as the host city.

“We thought the best way to do that would be to have the U.S. premiere of ‘Jack Reacher' right here in Pittsburgh,” McQuarrie told the Tribune-Review.

“The city has been wonderful. ... Sometimes when you are doing a movie and you find a spot you like, they tell you that you can't use that spot. But we were never told no.”

Pittsburgh has a starring role in the film, with stunning scenes, including that impressive view of the city from the Fort Pitt Tunnel.

“It's a beautiful city,” Cruise told David Letterman on TV Monday night.

It's not the first time Hollywood has changed plans because of a shooting tragedy.

Warner Bros. canceled the Paris, Mexico City and Tokyo premieres of “The Dark Knight Rises” when 12 people were killed at a screening in Aurora, Colo.

Pittsburgh Film Office director Dawn Keezer said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, where she has an office, that she is thrilled Pittsburgh was chosen for the movie and that this was the first premiere in Pittsburgh during her tenure.

“It is great to have a movie like this one with such a big star like Tom Cruise filmed in Pittsburgh,” she said. “It is amazing that Tom and Chris came back for this. But they both said they appreciated what Pittsburgh did for them.”

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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