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Against a backdrop of Imperial Valley sand

April 17, 2002

dunes, Rock's ‘Scorpion King' opens Friday

By RICHARD MONTENEGRO

Staff Writer

Seen "The Scorpion King" trailers all over television and at the theater in recent weeks? Does any of that sandy beige stuff making up much of the backdrop look familiar?

That's because nearly all of the desert scenes in the new Universal Pictures flick starring the World Wrestling Federation's The Rock were filmed in Imperial County.

To celebrate the film's Friday opening across the country, the Imperial County Film Commission is staging a premiere screening at the Movies in Imperial with a party following immediately after at Coyote Wells in El Centro.

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"It's a thank you for the community for supporting the Film Commission," said Allison Martin, commission executive director.

In April 2001, "The Scorpion King" and its stars, including The Rock, spent a couple weeks in the Valley filming. Martin said desert scenes such as those in which The Rock's character is chased through the desert by an army and a computer-generated sandstorm were either filmed in the Buttercup Valley or the Anza-Borrego desert, both in the county.

Martin said she plans to introduce the film to those who attend the screening, explaining a little about the production.

She warned, however, The Rock will not be in attendance Friday as "The Scorpion King" cast is still involved in premieres in the Los Angeles area.

More than anything, Martin said, Friday's premiere and after-party is a chance to let the community know just what the Film Commission means to the county in terms of revenue generated.

In addition to movie shoots, both still photography and commercials are shot on location in the county and bring in some $2 million to $3 million a year in the form of business patronized, permitting fees, hotel, gas and sales taxes and many more peripheral services.

Admission to the premiere is $25 and includes entrance to Coyote Wells, where "The Scorpion King"-themed prizes from Universal Pictures will be given away and local band 9 Lives will entertain. Free Bud Light draft will be served with paid admission.

Tickets can be purchased from the Imperial County Film Commission by calling Martin at 337-4155.

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