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Thanks to the wizardry of five Culver City film historians and a cast of Hollywood's greatest stars, Screenland 5K guests will follow the yellow brick road into 100 years of motion picture magic on Oscar Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Culver City, the Heart of Screenland, where “Hollywood” movies are made. Guests will retrace the steps of fabled stars & directors in 100 iconic scenes filmed across their journey along legendary studios in celebration of the centennials of MGM, Culver Hotel and the former Meralta Theater. Course route is here.
Screenland 5K Showrunner and Creative Director Lori Escalera, film historians Chris Bungo (pictured above) and Marc Wanamaker, and Culver City Historical Society Officers Hope Parrish (President, pictured above) and Maureen Fleming (Vice President-Museum) have made the streets of the event come alive with their love of cinema. Bungo photographed locations of storied movie and TV scenes shot on Culver City streets and identified them for the race. “I didn't have the luxury of hiring a film crew to block the streets for me. I would run to the middle of Culver Bl. to get the shot and dash back to the sidewalk to avoid oncoming traffic,” said Bungo. “The fun part was to overlay my photo onto the original film frame.” Bungo started working in local cinema by documenting productions by Culver City’s Hal Roach Studios. “It hit home for me, I loved doing the research,” said Bungo.
Compiling 100 points of historical lore for the inaugural Screenland 5K in 2017, Escalera (pictured) cited the most significant performances among the more than 500 scenes filmed along the Screenland 5K course over the past century. An online and printed Points of Motion Picture Lore brochure retraces where Aladdin flew on a magic carpet, Spanky and Our Gang committed memorable antics, and 98 more scenes where residents regularly heard, “Lights, Cameras, Action!” In recognition of National Women’s (Mar.) and Black History (Feb.) months, Escalera showcases several scenes that honor under-represented talent. "It’s important to include the under-represented people, who made great contributions the past century in cinematic storytelling in Culver City, such as Arabians, Jews, Asians, African Americans, Hispanic and Culver City’s indigenous peoples,” said Escalera, a renowned street chalker who has memorialized impactful minority figures in her artwork. Pictured is Butterfly McQueen of Culver City movies Gone With the Wind and Duel in the Sun. Culver City Historical Society President Hope Parrish, who alongside her father, Dennis, provided prop artistry to the Culver City film industry for decades, adds insight to the origins of filmmaking along the course. “Most people have no idea the number of revered films and shows that were shot here,” said Parrish, a Culver City High School alumnus and Culver City Sister City Committee Board Member.
Culver City film historian Marc Wanamaker recounts 100 years ago when an Our Gang comedy played in the grand opening of the new Meralta Theater. At one point, the projectionist stopped the film and the cast "leaped through their on-screen likenesses." Wanamaker’s books, including Reel Culver City, regarding the travails of the movie industry in the Heart of Screenland are bibles for film enthusiasts from around the globe.
While you’re running the Screenland 5K, you might imagine Adam “Batman” West giving you an autograph after his chase, Fred “Hunter” Dryer fighting criminals by City Hall and Erik “CHiPs” Estrada ticketing you for running a red light? Along with locations from other former popular TV shows such as Charlie’s Angels, Twilight Zone, Cougar Town, Bones, Perry Mason and Wonder Years, runners this year will pass spots where Aunt Bea and Andy Griffith dropped off Opie, Buster Keaton became “The Cameraman,” King Kong grabbed Fay Wray, Janet Gaynor eyed Fredric March, Ingrid Bergman protected Gregory Peck, Kevin Hart conspired with his buddies, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin got into mischief, Lucille Ball evoked laughter and love, Hardy scorned Laurel, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe escaped from gangsters, Lassie came home, Tron became a freedom fighter in cyberspace, and ET flew.
Mapmaker Suzanne Mand (pictured) and graphic artist Karim Sahli (pictured) will put the finishing touches on the depiction of the 100 scenes of filmdom for guests to enjoy in print and online.
Hal Roach Studios, the Laugh Factory to the World, borders the Screenland 5K start along with the shuttered Sebastian's Cotton Club, where Jazz giant Louis Armstrong often performed. Roach produced Our Gang and Laurel and Hardy comedies, and later made training films, featuring Ronald Reagan and Alan Ladd, for the WWII aircraft industry. On the east side of the race start is The East Culver City Arts District, and Helms Bakery, the official Olympics provider for the 1932 Olympic Games and former home of the Helm’s Olympic Athletic Foundation.
Follow the yellow brick road west on Washington Bl., called “Wagon Pass” notorious for its nightclubs, gambling, and bootlegging, and later the economic engine of the city with industry and auto dealers. Wander past the gates of Sony Pictures Animation, home of Spiderman and The Smurfs.
Passing the former Ince Studios, go north on Ince and step by Media Park and the Ivy Substation, site of train sequences for numerous Hal Roach films. Ivy Substation houses "Actor's Gang" playhouse led by actor Tim Robbins.
Stride along the nation's smallest main street in hip and historic downtown Culver City, home to half of America's movie production in the 1940's, providing affordable entertainment during WWII.
Jog by the century-old Culver Hotel, a “wedge-shaped Renaissance revival-style hotel, fashioned with sculpted stone, brick, ornate overhanging eaves and 200 magnificent windows.” From legendary ownership to memorable guests from film and politics, this National Historic Landmark retains its prestige and nostalgia. Continue your journey past the Center Theater Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre, formerly the Culver Theater.
Run to the storied gates of Sony Pictures Studios, once home to Ince/Triangle Studios and century old Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. View the Wizard of Oz inspired "The Rainbow" soar. Screenland 5K celebrates the centennial of MGM, now owned by Amazon Studios, down the street from Sony Pictures at The Culver Studios, which is along the course. Glide past movie studio watering hole, The Backstage, thriving in the 1930's, during the filming of Wizard of Oz, A Star is Born and Gone with the Wind.
Skirt near the marker and plaque in front of Veterans Auditorium denoting the start and finish of the Western Hemisphere Marathon, which was the oldest consecutively run marathon west of the Mississippi and the first marathon to allow women to compete. Pass the historic Post Office, City Hall façade, and Fire Station Number One. Zip by the site of Olympian Esther Williams' lavish swimming pool movie scenes. Run by the new Culver Steps on the grounds of hundreds of movie scenes over the past century.
Jog alongside Culver Studios where Bette Davis, Robert Mitchum, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gained stardom long before Elvis Presley began rehearsing there. Silent movie pioneer Thomas Ince, legendary filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille, tycoon Howards Hughes and the comic duo of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball once owned the studios. Today, Amazon Pictures, owner of the MGM film library, produces shows in the renovated sound stages.
Revel in the Academy Awards largest recreational celebration in your stretch run on Washington Bl. to the finish line and Health and Fitness Expo at Ivy Station.
Guests will follow the yellow brick road into 100 years of motion picture magic in the race of the century, retracing the steps of fabled stars & directors in 100 iconic scenes filmed across their journey along legendary studios in celebration of several centennials. MGM and Leo the Lion started making movies 100 years ago on the lot where Sony Pictures Entertainment stands. The water tower remains as MGM's iconic symbol of the past, when Culver City built its water system a century ago in 1924. The new Meralta Theater opened in 1924 with an appearance by Will Rogers and characters from "Our Gang." The wedge-shaped historic landmark Culver Hotel, which housed Culver City Hall and the former Meralta Theater, will celebrate its 100th birthday. Culver City’s first auto speedway race was held 100 years ago across from MGM in front of 60,000 fans. The Screenland 5K also will celebrate the 100th birthdays of Culver City's Jobs Daughters and Don Mann.
While you pounce on 100 former movie sets along your journey, you also will experience the 100 Points of Historical Lore, developed in 2017 for the inaugural Screenland 5k, celebrating the Heart of Screenland's 100th birthday. The 100 points of Culver City lore along the 5K course are depicted in the brochure by Lori Escalera, Karim Sahli and Suzanne Mand.
For a preview of your adventure into movie magic, enjoy Play Streets along the 5K course until 9:00 am. Bike, scoot, skate and walk in the car-free environment to leisure and dining options along the Screenland 5K course. We'll clean the streets before you arrive! After your great race, take the opportunity to dine, shop and browse at Ivy Station, the Platform, hip and historic downtown Culver City and other places along the course.