News / USA

    Small Illinois Town Gets Boost From New Superman Movie

    Small Illinois Town Gets Boost From New Superman Moviei
    X
    June 15, 2013 1:25 AM
    Since 1938, a red-caped superhero impervious to most earthly pitfalls has captivated the imagination of comic book, television, and movie fans around the world. Superman has become a cultural icon of the United States, and the merchandising and promotion of the character is a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the release of the newest Superman movie, Man of Steel, is helping one small Illinois town cash in on its connection to one of the most beloved comic book heroes of all time.
    Since 1938, a red-caped superhero impervious to most earthly pitfalls has captivated the imagination of comic book, television, and movie fans around the world.  Superman has become a cultural icon of the United States, and the merchandising and promotion of the character is a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide. The release of the newest Superman movie, Man of Steel, is helping one small Illinois town cash in on its connection to one of the most beloved comic book heroes of all time.

    Plano, Illinois, has a population just under 11,000, and is as American as the flags flying throughout the downtown streets.

    Plano Mayor Bob Hausler said, “I would say a great Midwestern small town, and we epitomize that.”

    Hausler was in charge of the city's government in 2011 when a Hollywood production company came to town. “There was a lot of secrecy about what the storyline, and even who the main character was.”

    • A Main Street building with an American flag painted on its side, Plano, Illinois. (K. Farabaugh/VOA)
    • A restaurant welcomes cast and crew of the new Superman movie, Plano, Illinois. (K. Farabaugh/VOA)
    • A shop window painted for the movie, Plano, Illinois. (K. Farabaugh/VOA)
    • Movie trucks are seen in Plano, Illinois. (K. Farabaugh/VOA)
    • Buildings with Smallville signs, Plano, Illinois. (K. Farabaugh/VOA)
    • Buildings used for filming in Plano, Illinois. (K. Farabaugh/VOA)
    • A building used for filming in Plano, Illinois. (K. Farabaugh/VOA)
    • A Smallville sign is seen in Plano, Illinois. (K. Farabaugh/VOA)

    But in a town as small as this, it’s hard to keep a secret. Once the trucks, lights, and movie cameras moved onto Main Street, news quickly spread it was not just any Hollywood movie, but the big budget Man of Steel, a new version of the beloved and iconic comic book hero Superman.

    “It was very exciting that our town would be picked for a major motion picture. I used to watch him on a black-and-white TV, and it was one of my favorite shows growing up,” said Hausler.

    For several weeks in the summer of 2011, film director Zach Snyder, along with hundreds of cast and crew members, transformed Plano, Illinois, into Smallville, Kansas, hometown of Superman’s adopted parents Jonathan and Martha Kent. The location plays a significant backdrop in several key sequences in the new film.

    Resident Jim Martens is the chairman of the Smallville Superfest, a three-day-long, city-wide party dedicated to the fictional character that has helped put Plano on the map of the Superman universe.

    “We really couldn’t believe something as big as Superman could be filmed here,” he said.

    Martens said that even before its release, the movie attracted fans from far and wide. “They had to get a piece of the action and see what was going on.”

    Hausler said the increase in tourists has brought new life to Plano’s Main Street. “We have seen more and more of the vacancies being filled with retail spaces and other shops.”

    Some of those businesses embraced the connection to Man of Steel, keeping the artwork created for the movie sets on their storefronts. Hausler said preserving the look of the fictional Smallville helped Plano get through the recent economic downturn.

    “From 2011 we’ve actually seen our sales tax revenue grow just about every month since then. We’ve had that much economic growth,” said Hausler.

    While you may not be able to see the superhero known for traveling faster than a speeding bullet, or more powerful than a locomotive, you can soon visit a Smallville museum in the town’s historic train station, featuring movie set props and other items related to the filming of Man of Steel.

    Kane Farabaugh

    Kane Farabaugh is the Midwest Correspondent for Voice of America, where since 2008 he has established Voice of America's presence in the heartland of America.

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Sandra from: Pakistan
    June 17, 2013 4:41 PM
    I don’t think that there is anyone anywhere who wouldn't know Superman. He’s been every child’s fantasy. But what’s more interesting is that though he’s fighting evil and bad guys in the movie but this time the effect is even pronounced in real life, as Man of Steel managed to give fame, income and employment to Plano, a small city in Illinois. Now isn't that sweet Superman!

    Sandra J.
    Bolee.com

    by: Robert Fuller from: Mililani Hawaii
    June 17, 2013 6:45 AM
    Notice on the main street there isn't even a street light!


    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    June 17, 2013 2:28 AM
    The number of residents are getting decreased in rural towns in Japan, too. It is because there is few industries to employ residents, especially young people. Plano, Illinois had a good luck to be chosen for a home town of superman, an orphan of the Krypton. I wish people in Plano happy lives.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.