Brooklyn College has been in many movies and TV shows before, but never quite like this. “Gemini Man” is a big-budget international blockbuster starring Will Smith and featuring Brooklyn College’s campus in all its glory. The film’s final sequence plays out between Ingersoll and Boylan Halls, with a camera capturing Will Smith standing on a cracked campus concrete tile before eventually panning toward the Bedford Avenue gate. Also in the shot are a food truck, MTA bus (likely a B11 given the model) and the West Quad Center, which is in the middle of the movie’s final frame before the scene fades to credits.
The scene was shot back in April of this year, with Smith posting a selfie-style video from campus on his YouTube channel introducing Gemini Man’s first trailer on April 23rd. Although many productions have shot on campus before, Gemini Man comes with estimated budget of over $150 million, is directed by Ang Lee (Life of Pi), produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (Pirates of the Carribbean), and stars an A-list cast.
Smith plays Henry, a former government assassin, as well as his younger clone who is sent to kill him. Also in the film are Clive Owen as the head of the government organization “GEMINI,” as well as Mary Elizabeth Winstead (10 Cloverfield Lane) and Benedict Wong (Doctor Strange) as Henry’s allies.
Lee shot the movie in 3D and 120-frames-per-second (fps), compared to the usual 24fps, using some of the most expensive and modern digital equipment available for movie shoots. “The technology on this movie is crazy,” said Smith in his campus video. The scene is around 3 minutes and 27 seconds long. Given the release in 120fps, there are close to 25 thousand frames of Brooklyn College in the movie.
While being the final few minutes in a movie of this scale is a first for Brooklyn College, another Jerry Bruckheimer film, 2010’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” also used Brooklyn College as a shooting location. Though in that production, the school appeared to mainly serve as a classroom representing NYU. Despite this, there doesn’t seem to be a unique connection between Bruckheimer and the school.
“The only special relationship between Jerry Bruckheimer Films and CUNY or Brooklyn College of which I’m aware is that the locations were perfect for the required scenes of both Gemini Man and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” said Michael Singer, Vice President for Marketing & Publicity at Jerry Bruckheimer Films.
Indeed, Brooklyn College’s almost 90-year-old and wide-open campus serves as a convenient pick for any location scout who has to find a decent-looking place for a screenplay’s “INT. COLLEGE CAMPUS – DAY” slugline.
“They love the look of Brooklyn College: it’s an old-style look; it could be any Ivy League college,” Kevin Carmine, who used to coordinate productions for the school, told the Daily News in 2008. “We’re [fictional] Hudson University on ‘Law and Order.’ We’ve been Yale and Harvard. People in Brooklyn wouldn’t be fooled for a second – it’s Brooklyn College. But people on the West Coast might be,” he said.
In the case of Gemini Man, the audience goes way beyond the West Coast but extends all around the globe.
Web and television shows tend to shoot in New York more often than Hollywood productions. In 2018, less than 1,300 New York City film permits were issued for movies, compared to over 5,000 for shows. Brooklyn College is no exception, with plenty of shows taking advantage of the campus. According to its website, the school played host to episodes of “Daredevil,” “Jack Ryan,” “Mr. Robot,” “Elementary” and “The Americans” as well as multiple commercials for, among others, Google and Apple. Just this year, Netflix’s “The Politician” and CBS’s “God Friended Me” also shoot scenes on and around campus.
Money from renting the campus to production goes to the Brooklyn College Auxiliary Enterprises Corporation (BCAEC), the school’s nonprofit, which has previously funded award ceremonies and other campus events.
“Gemini Man” is now playing in over 3,500 domestic theaters. The film received a B+ CinemaScore rating from opening weekend audiences. While critics gave it mixed-to-negative reviews, they almost universally praised it for its visuals and technology. And Brooklyn College certainly played some role in the former.