'Up In The Air' features St. Louis landmarks

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 1:27 p.m. CST, Thursday, December 24, 2009
George Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham in "Up in the Air."

COLUMBIA — "Up in the Air," which stars George Clooney and Vera Farmiga, opened Wednesday in Columbia theaters, and the movie might seem familiar to Missouri audiences.

Filmed in St. Louis, much of it is set in Lambert-St. Louis International Airport where Clooney catches a number of flights as a corporate downsizer. The actor spent portions of March and April in St. Louis, and he appears in several of the city's landmarks during the movie.

His apartment, which is supposed to be in Omaha, Neb., is actually a building downtown on Market Street. He meets Farmiga in the Renaissance Grand Hotel, visits her home on Lafayette Square (allegedly Chicago) and they tour Affton High School (the fictional Ashton High School in Wisconsin).

They check into a Tudor-style hotel, ostensibly in rural Wisconsin but actually the Cheshire Inn in Clayton. A wedding during the movie takes place at the Maplewood United Methodist Church.

Scenes were also shot at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark and the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel.

"This particular film required a lot of settings, which is why the production crew chose the St. Louis region as the primary filming location," said Jerry Jones, director of the Missouri Film Commission in Jefferson City.

Because Clooney's job firing business employees requires him to spend a lot of time on the road, St. Louis offered a variety of location options.

“The production crew found that after visiting places where the setting of ‘Up in the Air’ was to take place, such as Albuquerque and Chicago, that St. Louis would make a good substitution city because of its diverse settings,” he said.

Missouri also offers tax credits that made the movie much more reasonable to produce. 

“They chose the St. Louis region because Missouri offers a tax incentive,” Jones said. “That, and the fact that St. Louis made a good substitute for other filming locations, made it the dominant choice."

"Up in the Air" was directed by Jason Reitman, also director of "Juno" and "Thank You for Smoking." It is based on a 2001 novel by Walter Kim.

The film has already been nominated for six Golden Globe awards, including one for Clooney, one for Farmiga and another for Reitman. Jones hopes publicity generated by the movie will generate a payoff in Missouri.

“This is a big step for the future of film production in Missouri, because this is a major studio for Paramount Pictures, and that’s really special," he said. "When they come in, you know it will work out well in the future.”

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