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"Days of Summer" puts L.A. in the spotlight

August 25, 2009 |  8:00 am

On location in Los Angeles Los Angeles rarely gets to play itself.  But the city -- which often stands in for New York or some nondescript metropolis -- is getting the Hollywood treatment from the indie hit from "(500) Days of Summer."

The offbeat romantic comedy has generated $22 million at the box office and plenty of attention for the city at a time when it sorely needs it.  Local production has steadily fallen as film producers have flocked to cheaper locales like New Mexico, Louisiana and Michigan. Although feature activity has picked up somewhat in recent months, overall on-location production was down 4% last week over the same period a year ago (see accompanying chart).

Distributed by Fox Searchlight, "Days of Summer" centers around an aspiring architect Tom (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who has an abiding affection for some of the city's historic landmarks, such as the Bradbury Building on Broadway (where Tom takes an important meeting) and the Barclay Hotel  on the corner of 4th and Main Street (the cafe where he and his friends hang out).

The low-budget film, which cost at least $7.5 million, was originally written for San Francisco. But the movie's producers settled on Los Angeles because it was less expensive to film here and they were impressed with the city's rich architectural heritage and surprisingly vibrant downtown.

"I thought downtown was an interesting place to explore,'' said  Marc Webb, the movie's director who lives in Silver Lake. "Some people think this is a phony version of L.A. and that nobody lives downtown. But there is this romantic, beautiful part of Los Angeles. It's really an amazing urban center."

On Sunday, the film's fans can join a walking tour of the downtown locations featured in the movie, including the Angel's Knoll pocket park and the Redwood Bar & Grill, to benefit the Los Angeles Conservancy. The free tour, from 3-6 p.m., begins at the Old Bank DVD store at the corner of 4th and Main streets and will be led by Marty Cummins, a key assistant location manager who worked on the film, and Harry Medved, co-author of movie location guidebook "Hollywood Escapes."

"Here's a film that celebrates pre-war downtown buildings that most Angelenos have never seen up close and on screen, so we're going out to rediscover them," Medved said.

--Richard Verrier

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Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-star in the film "(500) Days of Summer" with the architecture of Los Angeles.

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The historic Bradbury Building was among the landmarks featured in "(500) Days of Summer."

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       The Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain in the mall between the County Courthouse and the Hall of   Administration was featured in a scene from the movie "(500) Days of Summer."

Credit: Chuck Zlotnick/Fox Searchlight Pictures

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