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Bus tours to put movie buffs on location throughout Pittsburgh

| Saturday, May 3, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise and Batman are coming back to the 'Burgh — as memories immortalized in a tour showcasing the city's history in movies and television.

“Lights, Camera, Pittsburgh!” kicks off May 31 and will be operated by Pittsburgh Tours and More, a new division of Pittsburgh Transportation Group, which operates taxis, buses and more. VisitPittsburgh, the region's tourism agency, will promote the tour.

“We're excited about this finally getting kicked off,” said Dawn Keezer, director of the film office that opened in 1990. Talks of a tour started shortly after, she said.

“People still want to know where the restaurant was in ‘Flashdance,' ” Keezer said. “They want to know where the church was from ‘The Deer Hunter.' ”

The tour begins with a ride up the Duquesne Incline to Mt. Washington, where sightseers will board buses and continue back down through Station Square, the area around Downtown's Market Square, across to the North Side, through the Strip District and back through Downtown's Cultural District.

Snacks, including popcorn, will be provided, and video clips of the movies and TV shows will be shown. The buses will stop so riders can get off and visit shooting locales.

Movies to be highlighted range from the 1968 zombie classic “Night of the Living Dead” to “Fathers and Daughters,” the Russell Crowe film in production. Other notable movies include:

• “Flashdance,” 1983

• “Striking Distance,” 1993

• “Inspector Gadget,” 1999

• “Wonder Boys,” 2000

• “The Bread, My Sweet,” 2001

• “She's Out of My League,” 2010

• “The Dark Knight Rises,” 2012

• “Jack Reacher,” 2012

• “Foxcatcher,” 2014

Productions shot in other city neighborhoods could be added.

“We're working to make sure it encompasses as much as possible,” said Jessica Conner, assistant director of the film office, who helped identify locations and worked on the tour script. “Our hope is that this will be wildly successful and we can expand to include more locations.”

The tour will provide Pittsburgh Tours and More with a way to boost tourism and give back to the community by partnering with nonprofits such as the Pittsburgh Film Office, which will receive a portion of ticket sales and publicity from the tours, said Sherris Moreira, director of the tours operation.

“We love the fact that we have a city that is ready for a movie tour,” Moreira said. “It means we are becoming a popular destination.”

VisitPittsburgh plans to promote the tour through advertising and social media and will use it to highlight the city, starting with a group of 75 travel writers arriving this month from Canada.

“Film tourism is a growing trend,” said VisitPittsburgh spokeswoman Connie George. “This is huge for the city because it adds to the product we have to sell.”

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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