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Hollywood, Mississippi: When the Movies Come to Canton

CANTON, Miss.–What exactly attracted the first big movie to film in Canton may have been its very transformable and timeless square. What attracts movies to the city now may be its extensive resume’ (A Time to Kill, My Dog Skip, Oh Brother Where Art Thou). It could also be that Canton is ready for it, with a sound stage so that both external and studio scenes can be accommodated. Whatever the attraction, a major Hollywood production is again in the works and part of Canton is again being transformed.

The movie is called “The Same Kind of Different As Me”. Canton’s historic square was being used for a 1940s scene Friday, with store fronts converted and painted just like a small town in 1940s Louisiana.

The movie people had Peace St., which is also Hwy. 22, blocked off with permission from MDOT. A bus and several 1940s era cars and trucks, plus people in period costumes milled about. If you didn’t see all the heavy equipment, you might think you were in a time warp.

For business owners, though, having seen this so many times before, it was still business as usual on three sides of the square.

“It’s never been a problem for us,” said Alice Jean Hawkins, who operates Noble Watts Jewelry. “I think it attracts so many out-of-towners coming to see if they can see a star.”

Hawkins has met Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Diane Lane, Keifer and Donald Sutherland and has even sold jewelry to some people connected with the movies.

“We like to have the movie people here,” said Allison Spivey, who operated La De Da, which was on the part of the square that was blocked off and closed to the public Friday.

“They do come in and shop when they have their off time. Our normal customers may not come because they have trouble parking, but it all works out in the end.”

Gov. Bryant has declared 2014 the “year of the Creative Economy”, celebrating Mississippi’s rich heritage as a creative state, with writers, singers and actors. That mark also celebrates Mississippi as a place to create. There have been new tax incentives meant to attract more big-budget and small-budget productions alike.

For Canton, this is the first bigger-budget movie to film on the square since “Oh Brother” in 2000. But the business owners have seemed more than willing to lend their store fronts and their main area of commerce to keep Mississippi on the movie map.

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