Rahway on film

On the occasion of a movie filming in Rahway last month, our latest poll question had nothing to do with redevelopment, but it was fun nonetheless. Is it just me, or wouldn’t it be a lot of fun to have a “Rahway Film Festival” of sorts with the Union County Arts Center featuring a bunch of these movies one weekend (even if Rahway’s scenes are only a few seconds long in some)?

“What’s your favorite movie that was filmed in Rahway?”
The School of Rock (2003), 40 percent (18/44)
Rounders (1998), 38 percent (17/44)
City Hall (1996), 9 percent (4/44)
Something Wild (1986), 9 percent (4/44)
Other, 2 percent (1/44)

“School of Rock” and “Rounders” jumped out to a monster lead early and never looked back, with “Rock” edging out the win among RR readers. Interestingly, or not, the 44 votes is the same number as the poll before last, though fewer than the 58 votes cast in the most recent one.

“The School of Rock” is probably the most prominent of those listed, with major scenes filmed in and around the Union County Arts Center, including the finale of the “Battle of the Bands.” It’s the biggest hit of those in the poll, raking in $81 million while costing $35 million to make, according to The International Movie Database (IMDB).

“Rounders” (costing an estimated $12 million and grossing $23 million) was Matt Damon’s next movie after his Oscar-winner, “Good Will Hunting,” along with “Saving Private Ryan.” It also starred a pre-“Fight Club” and “American History X” Ed Norton. IMDB doesn’t list Rahway as a location, but from what I’m told, the gambling scenes were in fact filmed at the Elks Lodge on West Milton Avenue.

“City Hall” is the weakest of the bunch when it comes to netting a profit at the box office — costing $40 million but barely grossing $20 million — starring big names in Al Pacino and John Cusack, and a big name at the time, Bridget Fonda. Rahway also isn’t included on the filming locations for “City Hall,” according to IMDB, but more than a few people I’ve spoken to recall a scene filmed at Lehrer-Gibilisco Funeral Home on West Milton (just down the street from the Elks Lodge). The filmmakers repainted the entire funeral home and made some cosmetic changes.

We didn’t include in the poll movies (“Malcolm X,” “He Got Game“) that IMDB listed as being filmed in Rahway but probably were filmed at East Jersey State Prison (formerly Rahway State) because it’s in Woodbridge, although it has a Rahway mailing address. But it wouldn’t surprise me if “Something Wild,” which grossed $8 million, should be included in that group now. Thinking back, I recall Ray Liotta’s character is released from prison, and I’d bet it’s East Jersey State.

For those interested, “The Wrestler” will be filming in Dover this week, according to the Daily Record. Something else I came across since the first post: Nicolas Cage had originally been tapped to star, at least according to this report. Also, IMDB has a lot more information about the cast, which includes one of the software engineers we haven’t seen since “Office Space.”

Thanks for indulging in some non-redevelopment blog posts. We’ll get back to some redevelopment-related items this week. And also thanks to the readers who have emailed comments the past few weeks.