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Jim Hill
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by Jim Hill (archives)
May 22, 2001
Want to learn some of the secrets behind the production of Walt Disney Studios' soon-to-be-released blockbuster, "Pearl Harbor"? Then why plan a trip down Mexico way to visit the huge outdoor facility where many of the film's post-battle scenes were shot, the Fox Studios Baja complex in Rosarito, Mexico?

Go Behind the Scenes at "Pearl Harbor"

Okay. After months of being hammered by the TV commercials, movie trailers, posters, promotional interviews, hit singles on top 40 radio, etc. -- Friday, we're finally going to see what all the fuss was about.

Disney's "Pearl Harbor." Surely, by now, you've heard all the stories. How -- with its initial $135 million budget -- this was the most expensive project the execs at Walt Disney Studios had ever greenlighted. How "Pearl Harbor" 's director ("Armageddon" 's Michael Bay) and producer ("Top Gun" 's Jerry Bruckheimer) had marathon battles with Mouse House management to get all the money they needed to properly produce the film. Blah blah blah. So on and so forth.

Well, suppose "Pearl Harbor" is a hit. Maybe even the monster-super-mega-hit that Mickey's been hoping and praying the film would be. If that's really the case, won't you want to learn more about how this major motion picture was made?

If that's really the case ... Then don't book a flight to Hawaii to visit the real Pearl Harbor. Instead, make plans now to cross the U.S. / Mexican border in San Ysidro, CA., then take a 45 minute drive down to the seaside resort community of Rosarito. It's here -- right at the edge of the Pacific Ocean -- that most of the movie's memorable water battle and rescue sequences were shot at Fox Studios Baja.

What's a state-of-the-art film production facility doing down by the beach in Mexico? Simple, folks. This was where director James Cameron -- after searching the globe for a more affordable place to film his 1997 romantic epic, "Titanic" -- finally decided to set up shop. Fox construction teams spent over four months in Baja building Cameron his "ship of dreams" studio, which included a 600' by 600' outdoor water tank right down by the bay where Cameron could repeatedly sink his own 7/8th sized version of the doomed ocean liner.

It was actually this "Titanic" - sized water tank that made Mouse House executives think that it made sense to shoot several of "Pearl Harbor" 's big action sequences down Mexico way. After all, what better place to stage the aftermath of the attack -- as cinematic sailors scrambled to save their friends trapped about the "Arizona," the "West Virginia" and the "Oklahoma" -- than in the very same spot where the number one top grossing movie of all time was filmed?

(Hollywood wags have also suggested that -- given that Disney had already "borrowed" so many pieces from Cameron's "Titanic" [star-crossed lovers caught up with the events that lead up to a well-known tragedy] with the hope of duplicating the international box office success of that 20th Century Fox / Paramount Pictures' release -- it was probably inevitable that the Mouse would try to shoot some scenes for "Pearl Harbor" where "Titanic" had been shot. Anything to build up the perceived connection between these two epic films in the public's eye. Anything to get some of the former movie's magic to run off on the latter project.)

Anyway ... If you'd like to learn more about how "Pearl Harbor" and "Titanic" were really made, now's your chance, kids. Just this past Sunday, Fox Studios Baja opened this seaside facility to tourists with the official unveiling of its "Foxploration" behind-the-scenes tour.

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