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Post-apocalyptic movie to film at closed casino near Las Vegas

Updated April 6, 2022 - 6:21 pm

JEAN — More than 60 years from now, cities across the globe will be annihilated after religious terrorists nearly destroy the world.

The United Nations, however, adopts a plan to save humanity: a no-holds-barred martial arts tournament.

Well, at least that’s the plot of the latest movie to be filmed in Southern Nevada — and this time, instead of sending camera crews up and down the Strip, the post-apocalyptic production will be at a shuttered resort far from Las Vegas’ glitzy casinos.

Producers of “The Battle of Absolute Dominion” have filed plans with the state of Nevada to film at the closed Terrible’s hotel-casino in Jean, a desert outpost some 25 miles south of the Strip whose only residents are prison inmates.

The Nevada Film Office, part of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, is scheduled to discuss the producers’ application for more than $1.8 million in tax incentives during a hearing Friday.

According to the application, the film has already secured distribution through Netflix.

For the most part, movies filmed in Southern Nevada try to capture the Strip or, occasionally, Fremont Street in all their glory. But directors have also shot scenes in the desert outside Las Vegas, and the movie in Jean marks a colorful, near-final chapter for a remote hotel closed since the pandemic hit and earmarked for demolition to clear space for a new industrial park.

‘Not a ‘Spiderman’ Marvel movie’

Nevada Film Office Director Eric Preiss said it’s his understanding that the majority of the movie’s filming will take place at the hotel site off Interstate 15 at state Route 161.

Produced by Jason Blum and directed by Lexi Alexander, the movie will have a workforce of 710. This includes 628 Nevadans, including 503 extras who live here, according to its tax-incentive application, which says the movie will be filmed at 1 Main St. in Jean, the shuttered hotel-casino’s address.

The total budget is nearly $12.8 million, the application’s financial statements show.

“It’s not a ‘Spiderman’ Marvel movie,” Preiss said.

Blum, founder and CEO of production company Blumhouse, has created a cottage industry of low-budget horror films, including the “Paranormal Activity,” “Purge” and “Insidious” franchises.

He also received best picture Academy Awards nominations for producing “Whiplash,” “Get Out” and “BlacKkKlansman.”

Blumhouse declined to comment for this story, as it hasn’t formally announced the project.

Netflix did not respond to a request for comment.

Reno-based Tolles Development Co. acquired the hotel property in February as part of a $44.7 million, 142-acre purchase in Jean. Clark County commissioners have approved its plans for a 1.9 million-square-foot warehouse and distribution complex.

Tolles partner Cory Hunt said last month that the firm hopes to break ground in about a year to a year and a half; that it would take three to five years to build the business park; and that the hotel site would comprise the last phase of the complex.

Hunt said Tuesday that the company has “no comment at this time” on the movie.

‘Young Atheist fighters’

As described in the tax-incentive application, “The Battle of Absolute Dominion” is set in 2085. Desperate to save humanity, the U.N. votes to implement the martial arts tournament, an “abstract idea suggested by a popular internet comedian.”

​All “qualifying belief systems” will send a representative to compete, and the last fighter standing wins, says a summary of the film enclosed in the packet.

A date is set 20 years out to provide “ample time for international lawyers” to craft the tournament’s rules and regulations, but complications arise “when a story is leaked that the talented, young Atheist fighters started hearing the voice of God,” the summary says.

Pre-production runs from March 14 to April 17, with production scheduled for April 18 to May 24, according to the application, which states that 100 percent of the production will be shot in Nevada.

Hollywood in the desert

Las Vegas’ casino-lined, tourist-choked thoroughfares are popular spots to film. It’s hard to imagine movies like “The Hangover,” “Casino” or “Ocean’s 11” and “Ocean’s Eleven” being shot anywhere else.

Closer to the California border, Jean has a cluster of government services and operations, including a small airport, courthouse, fire station and post office, as well as a 96-pump gas station on one side of the highway and a truck stop on the other.

Its only residents are the prisoners in Jean Conservation Camp, a state facility that houses 240 female inmates.

Still, the town, if you can call it that, has a surprisingly robust film history.

A nearby dry lake bed served as the remote location where Joe Pesci’s Nicky Santoro confronted Robert De Niro’s Sam “Ace” Rothstein in “Casino,” where Ken Jeong’s Mr. Chow traded “Black Doug” for cash in “The Hangover,” and the starting grounds and finish line for the Mint 400 in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

The Jean area also was the site of Cousin Eddie’s irradiated homesite in “Vegas Vacation,” and its airport was home to a small-scale model of a World War II-era city during the filming of “Pearl Harbor.”

Preiss, of the state’s film office, said film companies look around the U.S. for buildings that are about to be demolished.

What’s a little damage to a place like Terrible’s if it will be torn down anyway?

In Matt Damon’s “Jason Bourne,” released in 2016, a SWAT vehicle crashes through the Riviera, which was imploded in 2016 to clear space for the Las Vegas Convention Center’s expansion.

“That was the last thing to ever happen there before they blew it up,” Preiss said.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Christopher Lawrence contributed to this report.

Movie Application by Las Vegas Review-Journal

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