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‘I Am Number Four’ offers many Western Pennsylvania locations

Brian C. Rittmeyer

Movie audiences across the nation will soon be cheering for the survival of an alien in the locally filmed “I Am Number Four.”

But East Vandergrift native Megan Cecconie will have her eyes on the bad guy — or at least the actor who portrays him.

And as the grand prize winner of a nationwide sweepstakes, Cecconie, 23, and her boyfriend will get to see the movie before anyone else in the Alle-Kiski Valley does.

Cecconie won a three-day, two-night trip for two to the premiere of the DreamWorks movie in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

It includes tickets to the premiere event, round-trip air fare, ground transportation, and hotel accommodations, said a representative of sweepstakes sponsor HarperCollins.

Cecconie was the sole grand prize winner from more than 10,000 entries. Her prize is valued at $3,000.

The movie will debut in theaters on Feb. 18.

Cecconie is hoping she’ll get a chance to meet actor Kevin Durand, who portrays the “Mogadorian commander” hunting Number Four. Durand was on the television series “Lost,” of which she was a fan.

“I just can’t believe it. I still haven’t realized I’m going to go next week,” Cecconie said. “It’s going to be exciting going to the premiere and seeing the movie first before everyone else.”

A 2006 Kiski Area High School graduate, Cecconie said she’s never won a prize like this before. She entered by completing tasks on a website that earned her points and entries in the contest.

“It was something easy to do every day. I didn’t really expect to win,” she said. “I got the e-mail and I thought it was a fake at first.”

Cecconie moved to Swissvale in August to be closer to her job as a receptionist at a retirement home.

She still lived in East Vandergrift when the movie was filming in nearby Vandergrift last June.

Other filming locations in the Valley include Deer Lakes Park in West Deer and Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville.

Vandergrift serves as the movie’s “hero town” of Paradise, Ohio, where one of nine fleeing aliens — Number Four — seeks refuge from those hunting them in sequential order. The first three are dead.

“Everyone’s excited to see the movie coming out,” said Sara McGuire, the Main Street manager for the Vandergrift Improvement Program — which became the Paradise Improvement Program in the movie.

But the hype in town over the movie has quieted down a bit since the film crews left, said Vandergrift Council President Brian Carricato.

“I’m very anxious to see it,” Carricato said. “I’m not a sci-fi person at all, but it was shot in my town. I’m definitely going to watch it.”

Carricato said the borough did everything it could to accommodate the filmmakers.

“Whatever they needed, they got from us,” Carricato said. The film’s producers “loved the town and they loved the cooperation they got. They loved everything about it.

“They said they’d strongly consider coming back to Vandergrift in the future for other movies.”

John and Elisa Trygar’s Grant Avenue shop, Trygar Music, was redressed as Grant Street Music. Advance footage of the film that’s been released shows the hero, John Smith, portrayed by Alex Pettyfer, walking by the front of the store at the same time a street lamp explodes.

John Trygar, 61, of Kiski Township, said he’s planning on getting a group together to the see the movie on opening night. He said he knows of at least two scenes in which his shop will be seen.

“People are getting excited,” he said.

“It’s really good for the Valley. The higher-ups said they had a wonderful experience dealing with the people in the Kiski Valley,” Trygar said. “They really enjoyed the fact that it’s a lot cheaper to shoot a movie in a smaller town than trying to block off a street in New York City.”

Franklin Regional High School — along with some of its teachers and recent graduates — figures prominently in the movie as Paradise Regional High School.

Although filming did take place at the Murrysville school in June and July, some scenes — such as those where things are blowing up — were filmed on sets that replicated the school to the smallest detail in a studio in Monroeville, according to Principal Tina Burns.

“Everybody’s talking about it,” Burns said. “They’re all watching the trailers. You see the advertisements now on television.”

Additional Information:

The story

Three are dead. He is Number Four. John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. Changing his identity, moving from town to town with his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John is always the new kid with no ties to his past. In the small Ohio town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected, life-changing events • his first love (Dianna Agron), powerful new abilities and a connection to the others who share his destiny. Suspense-thriller, 109 minutes, Rated PG-13.

Source: DreamWorks Studios

Additional Information:

Where to see it

‘I Am Number Four,’ from Dreamworks, will be in wide release Feb. 18.

The Pittsburgh Film Office is working to arrange an advance screening of the film in the region. If agreed to, a screening would most likely take place at the AMC Loews Waterfront theater at the Waterfront in Homestead, said film office Executive Director Dawn Keezer.

Once confirmed, details of the screening will be posted to the film office’s website at www.pghfilm.org , Keezer said.

Theaters in the Alle-Kiski Valley showing it as of Feb. 18 include Cinemark at Pittsburgh Mills in Frazer and South Pike Cinemas in Buffalo Township.


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