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.
Kane Farabaugh
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.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop illegal money flow from continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

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.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid