BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Hollywood megastar, Tom Hanks, will begin filming a World War II movie in Baton Rouge in early 2018, according to a news release from Louisiana Economic Development (LED).
The WWII naval drama, titled Greyhound, began pre-production on Monday. Filming aboard the USS Kidd and other locations throughout the Capital City is expected to begin in March of 2018.
"It's just a fantastic honor," said executive director for the USS Kidd, David Beard. "It's just such a wonderfully preserved World War II war ship that when it came time to find a location for a World War II destroyer for his film, there was just no contest, it was us."
Hanks will script and star in the drama as a commander of a Navy destroyer, Greyhound, as it escorts a convoy across the Atlantic in 1942.
Beard says they have been in talks for about a year now, but had no idea it had officially been given the green light.
"Yeah, we didn't even know that a press release had gone out yet. We're meeting regularly with people from the production company and we're still hammering out some details," he added.
It's the staff's attention to detail that may have sealed the deal for the Baton Rouge attraction. Beard says one thing that really won producers over was the windshield wipers, which are perfectly in line with how the other ships of that era were built. Beard credits the the efforts of his team for working so hard to keep the ship in tip top shape. "Everyday we are painting, scraping rust, and just doing everything we can to keep the ship looking as good as it should be and also to preserve it for future generations," said Beard.
From 2012's Battleship to a few other projects, the vessel is no stranger to the big screen. While the ship has been in films before, Beard says this is different. With Tom Hanks, as well as the level of the project, he says it could do wonders not just for the Kidd, but also for the Capital City.
"I think it's just a really great experience," said Beard.
Greyhound is the first significant film project to apply for the new enhancements to the state's film incentive that Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law in the summer of 2016. The new enhancements include a provision that provides a 5 percent tax credit on Louisiana expenditures for motion pictures filmed outside of the New Orleans area, according to LED.
The film has a reported total budget of $50.3 million, with an estimated $29.5 million spent in Louisiana, including $7.6 million in payroll for Louisiana residents. The LED reports Greyhound, a production of FilmNation Entertainment, is expected to employ about 250 people.
LSU professor and actor, Joe Chrest, says it is great to see this renewed interest in the Bayou State and the economic impact something like this film could bring. "That's a no-brainer," said Chrest. "You don't think about just the hundreds of thousands of dollars that we spend here."
Beard says he is proud to be part of this project, which is shaping up to be a major investment in the capital area. "For its people, it's economic development and also to showcase the state around the world," he added.
"Louisiana has been a leader in entertainment industry development for more than 15 years, and major motion picture projects such as this one help to sustain the creative industry in our state," Edwards said. "We are glad to see FilmNation take advantage of our new initiative to promote film production in all regions of Louisiana. We also welcome Tom Hanks back to Louisiana for this project. Tom has been a great champion of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans since its opening 17 years ago, and the Beyond All Boundaries attraction, which he produced and narrates, is a signature experience of that world-class facility."
Two-time Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks adapted the film's script form C.S. Forester's 1955 novel, The Good Shephard. Hanks will star as the USS Greyhound's troubled commander, as the Greyhound is escorting a military convoy across the Atlantic Ocean in 1942, when German submarines are attacking allied shipping lanes in the Atlantic.
Other cast members for the film have not yet been announced. Academy Award-winner, Aaron Schneider, will direct the film and it's being produced by Gary Goetzman.
LED reports the film industry remains strong in Louisiana, with six other projects currently in pre-production and scheduled to shoot in early 2018. Four productions are currently filming through the end of 2017.