Tom Cruise is returning to Pittsburgh in mid-December and he's bringing the trappings of a swanky Hollywood premiere with him. It will be Pittsburgh's first major film premiere in decades, at least, and a rare round trip for a star with such box-office muscle.
Mr. Cruise, along with fellow actors Robert Duvall, Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo, are expected in Pittsburgh on Dec. 15 for the U.S. premiere of "Jack Reacher," known as "One Shot" during filming here in fall 2011 and early 2012.
Also scheduled to attend the Saturday afternoon event are director Christopher McQuarrie and novelist Lee Child, whose presence should confirm his stamp of approval of Mr. Cruise as the ex-military investigator Jack Reacher.
Paramount Pictures plans to take over the SouthSide Works Cinema -- all 10 screens and 1,659 seats -- for the 2 p.m. showing on Dec. 15.
An ad in the Dec. 6 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will provide details on how to win seats. No tickets will be sold for the event, which will feature a red carpet and entertainment for fans outside and international and national media.
The action thriller, based on the "One Shot" novel by Mr. Child, is about Jack Reacher, a footloose and enigmatic loner who suspects a one-time military sniper did not kill five people, as police charge. It opens nationwide Dec. 21.
Although Pittsburgh has played home to many productions, from "Wonder Boys" and "Unstoppable" to "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and "The Dark Knight Rises," virtually all of those films opened elsewhere, typically with much fanfare. But, it turns out, an American premiere of a major studio release was not mission impossible.
"We had an extraordinary experience shooting in Pittsburgh. The local crew was fantastic and the city was unbelievably accommodating," said Mr. McQuarrie, the Oscar-winning writer of "The Usual Suspects."
"We felt very welcome -- even with all the noise we made."
The story, largely set in the state of Indiana in the book, now takes place in Pittsburgh to take advantage of everything the city and its surrounding areas had to offer. That includes a quarry in Saltsburg, Indiana County, which took two hours to reach nightly and turned into a mud hole once rain started.
Filming started in the shadow of PNC Park, lit up the 10th Street Bridge, detoured through the Armstrong Tunnel, soaked up action and atmosphere in the Strip District, allowed Mr. Cruise to crisscross the city at high rates of speed in his 1970 Chevelle SS (nine of the muscle cars were used in the filming) and turned Sewickley, Dormont and other neighborhoods into film locations.
The main unit shot for 65 days here, while a second unit shot for 24 days. In addition to the cast expected to attend the premiere, the movie features Richard Jenkins, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, Joseph Sikora, Michael Raymond-James and Alexia Fast.
"The Pittsburgh Film Office is thrilled and excited that Paramount Pictures is going to host the U.S. premiere of 'Jack Reacher,' " director Dawn Keezer said last week. "We've never, in the history of the film office, had an event like this, and it's a great way to recognize the incredible growth of the film industry in the last several years which, I think, can really point to the success of the film tax-credit program."
The film office opened in early 1990 as "The Silence of the Lambs" was wrapping up. In recent years, it has had a remarkable run of movies starring such A-listers as Russell Crowe, Denzel Washington, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Emma Watson, Viola Davis, Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and Matt Damon, among others.
"By all indications, and according to the conversation I had with Mr. Cruise, he loved his experience in Pittsburgh and thinks Pittsburgh is going to look amazing on film," Ms. Keezer said. "It's nice that he wants to come and thank the city and the region by hosting this event in Pittsburgh."
She suggested this is an indication the industry recognizes Pittsburgh as a player in the business, adding, "Let's hope 2013 brings more money in film tax credits and more premieres of films that have shot in the region."
The scheduled appearance of Mr. Child would seem to indicate he has no trouble with the casting, even if some devoted readers are still grumbling.
On the page, Jack Reacher stands 6 feet, 5 inches and weighs 220 to 250 pounds -- making him far taller and much heavier than the actor -- and has dirty blond hair and icy blue eyes. He is more than a physical giant, though, using tools such as logic, deduction, footwork and intuition to puzzle out crimes.
The author said, in the movie's production notes, that Mr. Cruise nailed Reacher's ethos, which is more important than physical likeness.
"Cruise, at his core, is a character actor in the most literal sense," Mr. Child said. "He really gets into a role. He understood Jack Reacher. He projected his vibe. But the only real answer to that is, go see the movie. I guarantee you will come out of it, thinking, 'What was I worried about?' "