BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – From the big screen to a historic New Mexico museum, pieces of Belen’s film history are now all in one place.
From prop arms riddled with bullets to bloody costumes and behind the scene photos, “We have a lot of littler items. This is Morgan Freeman’s glasses and his watch and his I.D.,” says Maria Alicia Cordova.
The Harvey House in Belen has transformed one of its rooms to pay tribute to the movie magic made in the city. “This was Johnny Knoxville’s outfit and he carried these around the whole movie,” Cordova says.
Since the ’70s, Belen has been the backdrop of 44 feature films. “It can be anything that they want to portray. It’s been West Texas, it’s been Mexico, it’s been a Pennsylvania Amish community,” says Belen Planning and Economic Development manager Steven Tomita.
A lot of big names have come to the city to film: Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Last Stand, Kevin Costner in Swing Vote and Johnny Depp in Transcendence.
“It’s so good for the economy and it just makes the town very vibrant,” Cordova says.
Friends of the Harvey House say the mayor and a council member have been collecting movie memorabilia over the years. Now, they’re hoping by putting it all on display, it brings more people into the city. “Film tourism is becoming one of the largest film enterprises in the nation. Albuquerque has a big tourism, and we’re trying to capture on it too,” Tomita says.
Locals say having a film in town changes the atmosphere entirely. “They’re very excited. The special effects that they do…blow up cars, shoot each other, things like that, and you can hear the machines going off for blocks. That creates a lot of excitement,” Tomita says.
The movie memorabilia will be on display Saturday at the Harvey House from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. It’s free, but the museum is accepting donations.