After all these years Hope still continues to draw First Blood and the only thing that has changed since then is the fan base — it’s younger and growing. This Thanksgiving long weekend will mark 35 years since the release of the most popular movie in Chinese box office history. As a means to commemorate that milestone, the Hope Visitor Centre is hosting an event.
“We’re planning a one day, fun day on Saturday, Oct. 7, hoping to capitalize on the visitors that will be already here complemented by the fans who will come into town for the event,” said promoter and Visitor Centre staff member Brian McKinney. “Fans will get an exclusive foot walking tour around town complete with all the stories and finish out at the Othello Tunnels. Then at 6:30 p.m. the doors will open to the Hope Cinema where ticket buyers will see props from the film, have chances to win, and rub shoulders with who knows who. One confirmed attendee will be Global News BC celebrity meteorologist Mark Madryga, who is a huge fan of First Blood and has attended all our events
“Other possible celebrities are TBA”
Outside, the goal is to turn the exterior of the theatre into small town United States of America, complete with a sheriff’s car, army truck, U.S. mail boxes and flags to set the tone.
“We are tiny group of volunteers trying to pull this off so we need to do a little fundraising to look after some prop rentals and minor expenses. Income to offset expenses will come from merchandise sold celebrating the event along with private and corporate donations,” said McKinney.
“Hope, B.C., has reaped the benefits ever since” said McKinney. “It is one of the top three reasons visitors come to our area. Because of the movie’s cult-like status the average age of the fan is also getting younger and younger. Even in this day and age of [computer generated imagery] young fans love the grit of the film.
With all the industry activity going on around the province, long-time industry workers credit First Blood opening the gate to “Hollywood North.” “Hope, B.C., is where it all started” McKinney said. “Celebrities and set workers from various productions have actually come into the Visitor Centre and inquired about First Blood and the shooting locations”
Citing one recent example of the latest production in town — Christmas Icetastrophe — where fellow promoter Riley Forman gave two members of the cast, Victor Webster and Ben Cotton, a tour around.
“They loved it and were just in awe” said McKinney.
“So you know if Hollywood is intrigued there must be something to it.” McKinney just recently received a phone call from Academy award winner Michael Westmore who did the makeup for First Blood and Westmore too testified that the movie helped kick start filming in British Columbia as it’s known today. “It was cool as he remembered specific things about filming in town and he writes about them in his latest book Makeup Man. It’s not every day that you receive a phone call from an Academy award winner” said McKinney. “It was pretty cool”. McKinney admits that there is an eyeball-rolling stigma among the locals but the economic spin-offs is what keeps him motivated. He has spoken with promoters from Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts (shooting location for JAWS), who organized their annual JAWSFEST to compare notes and learn how to cope with the apathetic feedback from the locals. “They told me to just keep your eye on the prize and let the passion from the fan base get you through it”. First Blood tourism results in motel room stays, meals, retail sales and free media exposure of our community especially at a time on the calendar when we need it most — in the shoulder season “The true fan wants to see Hope, B.C., at the same time is was shot for the movie from November through December,” said McKinney. “Fans come from literally all over the world because this is where their favourite movie was filmed and they always ask why our community doesn’t do more but they are excited that we do whatever we can to preserve the legacy of the film.” McKinney said they have also received a call from Sylvester Stallone’s manager who echoed those sentiments. “Mr. Stallone really appreciates everything that Hope, Canada does to promote the film” she said. For more information stop by the Visitor Centre or call 604-869-2021 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.