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  • 6/2: Before the Fire

    There was a major fire at Universal Hollywood yesterday with a total loss of the backlot areas that include the N.Y. Streets, much of Courthouse Square and the King Kong attraction. Today we have a photo tour of the areas before the fire. Discuss it here!

    DIRECT ARTICLE LINK: http://miceage.micechat.com/allutz/al060208a.htm
    Last edited by Al Lutz; 06-02-2008, 09:37 AM.
    "Politics is the profession whereby the inevitable is made to seem a great human achievement" - Quentin Crisp

  • #2
    Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

    So much history goes up smoke in just a few hours. It will most likely be rebuilt, but it will never be the same authentic sets that were used for the films. It's sad because history is one thing that you can never get back, and that's what Universal lost last night.

    I remember seeing the Clock Tower for the first time in 1989, I honestly thought they were kidding when they said it was where Back to the Future was filmed. It was SO small compared to the movies and it took me a while to comprehend that it was trick photography (angles and wide lenses) that created the grandeur of the clock tower in the movie.

    I know that Universal wants to become a theme park and is de-emphasizing the tram tour, but to me that's still what Universal Studios is. All the rides and stuff are great, but the reason I go will always be the movies and it's a great loss when so many great sets are completely destroyed.

    On a side note, I'd just like to point out that although it's a sad loss, it's not nearly as devastating as a Disneyland explosion/fire would have been. I don't even like mentioning it because it would have been such an unimaginable horror. We have to be thankful that we still have Disneyland completely intact and hopefully it never suffers the same fate. It could be rebuilt exactly as it stands today (one look at Hong Kong is proof enough of that), but it would never be the same.
    Last edited by Athlonacon; 06-02-2008, 06:22 AM.

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    • #3
      Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

      Does anyone have photos of the video vault building (inside or out)? I still find it amazing that it went up the way it did. It looked like the roof was just normal (flammable) building materials and that's what caught first.
      "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."

      -Mark Twain

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      • #4
        Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

        Now that that story is over maybe we can get Al to go back to Disneyland and give us update sometime this year. It's been two months since he mentioned anything as to what's up with the parks. No news when there is suppose to be major changes happening is news in itself. Where are you AL?

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        • #5
          Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

          Please keep the thread on topic. Further off topic posts will be removed.
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          • #6
            Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

            Just so you all know the Courthouse is still standing and fine actually. The lawn was not even touched, in most of the shoots from "what is left" they will pan right past it. If you follow the views from yesterday as they were over the "video vault", which was more of a transfer and storage location then the vault, next to it is the 747 building with a facade infront of it then follow that north/west and you will see the facade of the courthouse. A lot of the news was very off yesterday and still some today, I worked there for 7 years and after watching all the video over and over again I could walk you down what was lost. But the courthouse is still there. One thing that everyone seems to forget, most of those "classic" sets have either 1. been torn down over the years and rebuilt or 2. were burnt in the 90 fire already. They will rebuild it and most of it will be better then before. But I would say that unless Peter Jackson drops some money Kong is gone forever.

            Here is a shot I had with the "video vault" on the left looking down toward the entrance of Kong.
            Kungaloosh!

            *END OF LINE*

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            • #7
              Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

              Thanks for the pictures, Al. It is a shame that so much was lost. The video vault sounds like a major lost. They say that have copies in other places, but still, such a lost to history.

              The only bright spot is that the fire happened when the park was closed and nobody was seriously hurt.
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              • #8
                Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

                Originally posted by Jerm View Post
                Just so you all know the Courthouse is still standing and fine actually. The lawn was not even touched, in most of the shoots from "what is left" they will pan right past it. If you follow the views from yesterday as they were over the "video vault", which was more of a transfer and storage location then the vault, next to it is the 747 building with a facade infront of it then follow that north/west and you will see the facade of the courthouse. A lot of the news was very off yesterday and still some today, I worked there for 7 years and after watching all the video over and over again I could walk you down what was lost. But the courthouse is still there. One thing that everyone seems to forget, most of those "classic" sets have either 1. been torn down over the years and rebuilt or 2. were burnt in the 90 fire already. They will rebuild it and most of it will be better then before. But I would say that unless Peter Jackson drops some money Kong is gone forever.
                Thanks, Jerm.

                I remember taking the Universal tour a few years after the '90 fire, thinking "a lot of this must be re-builds of the destroyed fronts."

                I'm sure, as you say, Universal will build again. Still, it's sad to see things go up in flames like this. And I will miss Kong.
                ------------------
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                • #9
                  Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

                  Based on pictures I've seen, it appears there was not any kind of fire suppression built into those sets. Is this normal? I understand why they wouldn't do it, cost. But, is it a good idea? Or, are they so cheaply built that it would cost more to put in some kind of fire suppression than it would to just re-build the sets?
                  Imagineering by Grumpyfan

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                  • #10
                    Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

                    Originally posted by GrumpyFan View Post
                    Based on pictures I've seen, it appears there was not any kind of fire suppression built into those sets. Is this normal? I understand why they wouldn't do it, cost. But, is it a good idea? Or, are they so cheaply built that it would cost more to put in some kind of fire suppression than it would to just re-build the sets?
                    I can't speak for what fire safety components were in the Kong attraction and the video vault, but New York Street and Courthouse Square are mostly wood facades, not actual buildings. They're constructed so they can be changed quickly into new backdrops for different movie shoots. I'm guessing state fire codes don't require them to have any type of sprinkler or alarm systems in place. If anyone has better insight on that, I'd be interested to know.

                    Originally posted by Al Lutz
                    Courthouse Square (originally made famous by the Back to the Future films) has been more recently in use for the Ghost Whisperer.
                    Al, you're a little off here. For over 20 years Courthouse Square was known as Mockingbird Square. The courthouse facade was made famous as the place where Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) defended Tom Robinson in "To Kill a Mockingbird."
                    Last edited by disneytim; 06-02-2008, 08:15 AM.
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                    • #11
                      Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

                      Originally posted by GrumpyFan View Post
                      Based on pictures I've seen, it appears there was not any kind of fire suppression built into those sets. Is this normal? I understand why they wouldn't do it, cost. But, is it a good idea? Or, are they so cheaply built that it would cost more to put in some kind of fire suppression than it would to just re-build the sets?
                      Yeah - they are just props. They are intended to be changed as needed. The more complexity you put into the structures, the harder it is to change them.

                      Universal probably is at more risk of loss due to interruptions in shooting schedules then they have in cost of rebuilding the materials themselves.

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                      • #12
                        Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

                        Such a sad sad day in film history. I really really really hope they'll rebuild the Kong area although I highly doubt they will. It was one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Hollywood so much because I miss the Kong attraction in Orlando so badly. If they don't rebuild it, I may not have reason to ever visit this park then.

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                        • #13
                          Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

                          Is it worthwhile to rebuild particular sets if they have no immediate need to shoot on them? In other words, if the tax incentives to shoot in Toronto and NYC are good enough now, does Hollywood need a NY street?

                          Would it be better put to some other use? I don't think they'll rebuild it the same for the sake of the tram tour visitors, including Kong. I think they'd rather spend the insurance check on something new and different.

                          I could be wrong. Did the NYC sets get rebuilt identical to their pre-90s counterparts after the last fire?

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                          • #14
                            Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

                            Originally posted by disneytim View Post
                            I can't speak for what fire safety components were in the Kong attraction and the video vault, but New York Street and Courthouse Square are mostly wood facades, not actual buildings. They're constructed so they can be changed quickly into new backdrops for different movie shoots. I'm guessing state fire codes don't require them to have any type of sprinkler or alarm systems in place. If anyone has better insight on that, I'd be interested to know....
                            Those of us who live within a mile of the studio and happened to be down wind yesterday would like to know, too.

                            The video vault was not really a fireproof safe, it was more of a video barn.

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                            • #15
                              Re: 6/2: Before the Fire

                              Originally posted by CaliforniaAdventurer View Post
                              Is it worthwhile to rebuild particular sets if they have no immediate need to shoot on them? In other words, if the tax incentives to shoot in Toronto and NYC are good enough now, does Hollywood need a NY street?

                              Would it be better put to some other use? I don't think they'll rebuild it the same for the sake of the tram tour visitors, including Kong. I think they'd rather spend the insurance check on something new and different.
                              In addition to its use as a tourist attraction, the Universal backlot is still in demand as a shooting location for current TV shows and movies. Sets from Angelina Jolie's upcoming movie "The Changeling," directed by Clint Eastwood, were among those destroyed in the fire. CBS's "The Ghost Whisperer" films in Courthouse Square. "Monk," "House" and "Crossing Jordan" are among the shows that have recently shot scenes on New York Street.

                              Originally posted by CaliforniaAdventurer View Post
                              I could be wrong. Did the NYC sets get rebuilt identical to their pre-90s counterparts after the last fire?
                              Yes.

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