When Kevin James rolled across movie screens on his signature Segway during “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” this past weekend, he wasn’t patrolling your average American shopping mall.
The sequel to 2009’s “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” has the dopey security guard doing his unconventional hero thing on the Strip at the Wynn Las Vegas, which, as he notes during the film’s trailer, includes a mall, his “home turf.”
The comedy was the first production to receive a Nevada film tax credit, implemented in January 2014, and “Paul Blart” was also the first film to shoot at the Wynn, which only recently began to welcome productions to the resort.
According to Sean Christie, vice president of operations and managing partner of Surrender Nightclub, Encore Beach Club & Andrea's, the initiative to start filming on property began when Maurice Wooden became president of the casino in 2013. He saw productions as a way to show off the iconic resort and expose it to people who have never visited Las Vegas.
With a small team, Christie went to L.A. and “basically told the Hollywood community that we were open to doing business. Once people heard that the Wynn was open to filming, there was a lot of interest.”
While “Paul Blart,” which opened in theaters April 17, might seem a surprising choice for the high-end Wynn’s first foray into film, Christie explains that Steve Wynn wanted a light-hearted, feel-good movie that would showcase the resort.
“We’ve turned down tons of movies with amazing directors and actors because we didn’t like the subject matter,” Christie says. “Kevin James came to us and said, ‘I will write it to feature the resort.’”
Indeed, the trailer includes plenty of nods to the Wynn’s signature spaces and details, including glimpses of its colorful lobby, the red-chandeliered casino floor and the luxury shopping esplanade — Blart’s “mall.”
However, the Wynn and sister property Encore aren’t the only casinos where “Paul Blart” filmed. The movie also shot on the pedestrian bridge between the Cromwell and Caesars Palace, which has been hosting productions since Elizabeth Taylor and Warren Beatty filmed “The Only Game in Town” at the casino in 1970. Today, more than 100 productions film at Caesars Entertainment properties annually, with 2014’s lineup including “The Biggest Loser,” “Hell’s Kitchen” and, yes, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.”
Christie, who has a small part as a high roller in the movie and attended the premiere in L.A., says the Wynn comes off beautifully, from Bartolotta’s airy interior to Encore Beach Club’s outdoor playground. Millions of people will see them both and, if Christie and the Wynn crew’s Hollywood gamble pays off, some of them will be inspired to come visit.