‘To the Wonder’ premieres; local scenery appears on the big screen

JESSICA MILLERExaminer-enterprise
‘To the Wonder’ premieres; local scenery appears on the big screen

BARTLESVILLE — Local scenery and even some recognizable local faces debuted on the big screen Thursday night with the first Bartlesville showing of Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder” — a film that some are calling “poetry in motion.”

The movie was filmed in and around Bartlesville and Pawhuska in 2010. Scenes of rural Osage County ranchland, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve and downtown Pawhuska are included in the movie’s final cut.

The Bartlesville Convention & Visitors Bureau presented an exclusive free premiere of the film at the Bartlesville Community Center on Thursday, with invitations extended to area residents and Oklahoma dignitaries who helped make the local filming a reality.

“We had planned all along to have a special viewing for the community, and especially those people who helped make the film a reality,” said BCVB Executive Director Maria Gus. “There were so many groups of people — from the police to some of our nonprofits to regular everyday citizens — who helped make the movie happen. The production company wanted to thank them and make sure that Bartlesville got a chance to see the film.”

Gus said the film was an important step for Bartlesville, not only helping to pave the way for similar projects in the future, but also in presenting the area to a world audience.

“It’s a major motion picture with academy award-winning actors that features our town,” said Gus. “It makes Oklahoma look beautiful and we make a beautiful backdrop and a beautiful setting to this story that Mr. (Terrence) Malick wanted to tell.”

Prior to the local screening on Thursday, Gus read a statement at the event sent by Malick’s office to let area citizens know that if their scene was cut from the movie, that it was no comment on their performance. According to Gus, the statement said the office plans to do an extended release that will add approximately an hour more of footage.

“So, people who see the film this weekend, they may not see themselves, but there may be, later on down the road, another version of the film … that will definitely have more of Bartlesville in it,” Gus said.

She said the sentiment from Malick’s office is that they wanted to make sure feelings were not hurt.

“It was definitely not any kind of statement about the performance, it was just reality of what they had to do,” Gus said.

As further proof of that, performances by veteran Hollywood actors Rachel Weisz and Michael Sheen also didn’t make the final cut.

Several representatives from the Oklahoma Film and Music Office attended the event Thursday. Gus also noted that Oklahoma’s film tax credit is going to be extended to allow for more films to be made in Oklahoma.

“The success that our community had in the cooperation of making this film had a direct link to the producers of ‘August: Osage County’ being willing to make that film in Bartlesville and the area as well. We had a great reputation after making ‘To The Wonder,’” Gus said. “This film may not be as mainstream as ‘August: Osage County,’ but it certainly paved the way for us to be able to host another major motion picture.”

Gus said almost $5 million was spent in Oklahoma during the filming of “To The Wonder,” and the majority of that money was spent in Washington County.

During Thursday night’s showing, Gus also read a statement from Terrence Malick’s wife, Alexandra “Ecky” Malick.

“Terry and I so love Bartlesville and the terrific people there. You all were and are family to us. We were moved by the kindness that you showed us all, even extending the unmitigated welcome to our dogs. We shall be eternally indebted to the community and hope to be regular visitors in the future. We send love and blessings from Texas,” Malick said in the statement.

Additional showings of the film took place Friday.

Tulsa’s Circle Cinema will show the film April 26. It is also available via iTunes and on Demand services.

“To the Wonder,” a Magnolia Pictures release, is rated R for some sexuality and nudity. Running time is 113 minutes.