The film “Broken City” began principle photography in November 2011 for a January 18, 2013, release in the United States. Despite the 2013 release, the film had actually been in development for nearly five years beforehand, which is just one of five fun facts about the film.
The film’s long journey began in 2008, when writer Brian Tucker wrote the script from an idea he had in his head. He had no previous screenwriting, production, or related credits to his name in movies or television. Without any connections, it is very hard to get a screenplay produced, but Tucker managed to sell his idea to the executives at Mandate Pictures, which had just been sold to a larger production company, Lionsgate. The movie went into preproduction but unfortunately did not make it past that stage despite that filming was scheduled to start in 2009. Instead, it was put into turnaround, where it mired for several years before it was finally made in 2011.
Director Allen Hughes is one half of the ace moviemaking team known as the Allen Brothers, which featured his twin brother Albert. They had built a reputation for making gritty, powerful dramas like “Menace II Society” and “The Book of Eli.” Though Albert had done a limited amount of directing work without his brother, Allen had yet to branch out and work on his own. “Broken City” is the first time he has made a film without Albert, though it may not be the last. The director said it took some getting used to, not having his brother at his side to back him up, particularly when executives had questions or requested changes in the film.
The movie may have stayed in turnaround and never gotten made if it weren’t for a chance encounter in a restaurant. Tucker, who had almost given up hope of the film ever coming to fruition, was at the Palm, a famous West Hollywood steakhouse and restaurant. It just so happened that Hughes was there that day, too, which is how he found out about the unproduced screenplay. Hughes took interest and started to see what it would take to get the film out of turnaround and back into preproduction with him at the helm. As it turned out, it wouldn’t take much for Mandate to give the film a green light, especially with such a critically acclaimed director on board.
The film is set in New York City, a costly city to film in. Not only is there the cost of the cast, crew, permits, food, and lodging, but there are also a lot of logistical challenges. For those reasons, producers tried to find a way to cut production costs while also eliminating some of the logistical problems they would run into. They did so by filming part of the movie in Louisiana, which is quickly becoming a hotbed for film production. The state began offering some very lucrative tax incentives to anyone willing to film there because filmmaking brings jobs and lots of commerce into the state. In fact, as of late 2012, Louisiana had moved into the top five in terms of film and television production in all of North America, besting cities like Vancouver and Chicago. “Broken City” had a small hand in making that happen.
The final fun fact about the production of “Broken City” is that the film itself has a gaffe in it, though not everyone who sees the movie will catch it. That’s because it deals with some specialized letters in the Jewish alphabet that spell out the word “Jewish” in the Hebrew language. In the film, Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper) is running for office and has a campaign headquarters set up to help him win. Like many campaign offices, it is filled with buttons, stickers, and posters touting the candidate as the right choice. One of those posters is supposed to have the word “Jewish” written in Hebrew, but it actually has the word spelled out backwards. The letters should be printed from right to left, but instead they are printed from left to right, which would be correct in English but is not in Hebrew. For those who know Hebrew, the poster actually spells out “hsiweJ” instead, which is a fairly big mistake. It would be a fairly simple one to fix before the film comes out on DVD and Blu-ray, as it would only take a few minutes of computer correction to edit it out. For now, though, the film is in theaters with this mistake, even if it is unrecognizable to most.