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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Can a blockbuster cameo help sell a building? Hollywood’s down to try

What do the movies Die Hard, 50 Shades of Grey and The Fountainhead all have in common? Tall buildings.
March 03, 2018 08:30AM

Seattle at dusk. (Credit from bottom: Cacophony, Mike Mozart)

Buildings in Seattle, Los Angeles and New York are getting their close-ups on the big screen, but whether starring roles translate into real-life results is still up for debate.

Take the 31-story Escala tower in downtown Seattle, which is featured in the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movies; though its starring role as the home of the movie’s billionaire title character has made it “very famous,” some residents are annoyed by the fandom that’s descended on them, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Tour guides now point out the building in relation to the movie and a crowd of mostly women gather outside for pictures — a phenomenon which the buildings sales and marketing director, Erik Mehr, says has equally thrilled and repelled current and prospective residents.

While the average unit in the Escala goes for about $850,000 and its 5,200-square-foot penthouse — the one fictional Christian Grey is supposed to live in — recently sold for $8 million, Mehr says the prices bear no relation to the popularity of the movie.

Meanwhile, LA’s WaterMarke Tower, which was the set for the movie “Her” and about 20 other different productions, has seen material benefits from being cast.

The building earns between $100,000 to $200,000 annually from fees related to on-location shoots and some tenants, like Jason Jones, “just about broke even” renting out his $15,000 per month apartment to film production companies last year. [WSJ]Erin Hudson