BUFFALO, N.Y. - The producers of the movie "Marshall," based on the early career of future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, needed to film in a place with an East Coast feel, old architecture and an old courthouse.
They toured Cincinnati, Cleveland, Baltimore, Providence and Pittsburgh, in search of the perfect location for the movie, set in Connecticut in 1940.
Ultimately, they settled on Buffalo, which offers the empty Dillon Courthouse right on the edge of Niagara Square downtown.
"Perfect for the period," director Reggie Hudlin said. "It feels epic in every way."
Filming for "Marshall" will begin on Monday in Buffalo and run through early July. The courthouse, which has been decommissioned and is no longer in use, will give the cast and crew ultimate freedom to film dramatic courtroom scenes.
City Hall will also be prominently featured, according to Hudlin.
The movie focuses on a particular case involving a young Thurgood Marshall, who fights racial injustice in the criminal justice system as he defends an African-American man accused of a heinous crime.
Early Sunday morning, Mayor Byron Brown welcomed the "Marshall" team to Buffalo on the steps of City Hall. According to the mayor, the production will spend roughly $5 million locally, in addition to hiring 400 crew and extras and booking more than 1,000 hotel rooms throughout the course of the shooting. The city and state lured "Marshall" through the New York State Film Tax Credit Program.
"You guys have a wonderful secret here in Buffalo," Hudlin said, "that we really want to tell everyone what a great place it is."
The movie includes some major stars. Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in the movie "42," will play Thurgood Marshall. Hudlin, the director, just co-produced the Oscars this past year.
Tim Clark of the Buffalo Niagara Film Commission predicts the movie will have as much impact as The Natural, which was filmed in Buffalo three decades ago.
"The Natural was a period movie. This is a period movie. I think they will be very similar in size and stature," Clark said. "This movie will live on for a long time to come."