Warner Brothers Pictures looking at Oklahoma farms

Friday, July 4th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Warner Brothers Pictures is looking for Oklahoma farms to use for scenes in an upcoming Superman movie, the state's film officer says.

Producers are looking for a traditional farmhouse surrounded by wheat crops to use as the superhero's childhood home, said Dino Lalli of the Oklahoma Film Commission.

Warner Brothers has not made any commitment to reintroduce Superman to moviegoers.

Among locations the film office plans to showcase are farms near Chickasha, Enid, Guthrie, Kingfisher and Ponca City.

Movie makers prefer to shoot within at least 30 miles of communities large enough to support production because low transportation costs are a priority, Lalli said.

At the Newer family pre-statehood farm near Kingfisher, hunter green shutters flank the windows, matching the color of the front door. The 1,600-square-foot faux white wood home fits the movie producer's criteria _ classic Heartland styling surrounded by about 128 acres of wheat.

Kathy Newer said she was surprised and amused when she learned the film office was looking at her family's farm.

``It was a flash of excitement thinking, 'Wow, we could actually be seen in a movie.''' she said. ``It's exciting.''

Lalli said he plans to submit about 50 photographs to producers by the end of next week.

Oklahoma is competing with at least six states, Lalli said.

Oklahoma offers sales tax relief and a 15 percent rebate on production costs incurred in the state to movie or television production companies.

But funding for the film office was reduced by about 50 percent during the past three fiscal years. That means tax incentive assets may be unable to accommodate a large production such as ``Superman,'' said Robb Gray, chief of staff for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.

Legislators could allocate funds if a large production company wanted to do business in the state, Gray said.

AOL Time Warner Inc. has experienced continuous conflicts trying to develop the new ``Superman'' movie. High-profile directors, including Tim Burton and Brett Ratner, have backed out and AOL Time Warner has not finalized plans for the project.

``I want them here spending money and making at least part of the movie here,'' Lalli said. ``It would be a tremendous amount of money that would be brought into the state from the outside and put a lot of local people to work.''

When Warner Brothers filmed at least 90 percent of ``Twister'' in Wakita in 1995, more than $11.3 million was pumped into the community for expenses ranging from lodging to set construction.

Oklahoma's wheat crop has been harvested this year. Filming likely would begin next spring if an Oklahoma site is selected, Lalli said.