An army of the dead is bringing Atlantic City back to life on the big screen.
Well … sort of. OK, not really.
But parts of AC were used as filming sets for Zack Synder’s straight-to-Netflix movie Army of the Dead. A trailer for the $90-million movie surfaced last week. Here’s a first look:
However, fans will have to wait until May 21 to see the entire Army of the Dead film.
The casino heist film is set in Las Vegas during a zombie outbreak. Mock gambling floors were staged at the Showboat Hotel Atlantic City and the former Atlantic Club Casino Hotel.
The movie stars Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Huma Qureshi, Omari Hardwick, and Tig Notaro.
Synder has directed multiple Hollywood blockbusters, including 300, Watchmen, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. He made his directorial debut in 2004 with a remake of the 1970’s horror classic Dawn of the Dead.
Army of the Dead arrives in Atlantic City
Filming for Army of the Dead in Atlantic City began in 2019.
Showboat owner Bart Blatstein invited the crew to use the vacant gaming floor. Decommissioned slot machines and card tables filled the space which had not seen live gambling since 2014.
The Army of the Dead also filmed at the old Atlantic Club, another casino that closed its doors in 2014. Film production at the former casino was shrouded in secrecy and lasted several weeks.
Thank you, come again
Army of the Dead took advantage of tax credits enacted by New Jersey in 2018.
Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that provides a tax credit of 30% for qualified film production expenses. To be eligible, a film must spend at least 60% of its total budget through vendors authorized to do business in the state or spend more than $1 million in qualified expenses in New Jersey.
“This is really good for Atlantic City and the local economy,” Heather Colache, director of the Atlantic City Film Commission, told a local newspaper at the time.
Is Army of the Dead art imitating life in AC?
The filming of a zombie movie in a city that has been left for dead countless times is near-perfect symmetry.
Public officials and residents in Atlantic City have lamented the fact that parts of their town already resemble a zombie movie.
“Let’s be real, Pacific and Atlantic Avenues are like night of the living dead…Atlantic Avenue is like zombie city.” – Atlantic City Council President Marty Small, wants @NJCRDA to contribute more for police to clean up streets
— David Danzis (@AC_Danzis) June 13, 2018
Atlantic City’s gritty image did not sit well with at least one cast member of Army of the Dead. In October 2019, actor/comedian Chris D’Elia posted a YouTube video slamming Atlantic City as “super depressing,” and compared a homeless man on the Boardwalk to his undead castmates.
D’Elia was soon replaced by Notaro in Army of the Dead because of sexual misconduct allegations unrelated to his time working on the zombie flick.
Welcome back to the World’s Most Famous Boardwalk
Atlantic City has served as a setting or filming location for many movies, music videos, and television shows.
Notable movies with scenes either set or filmed in Atlantic City include:
- Atlantic City (1980 / 1944)
- Snake Eyes (1998)
- Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
- Rounders (1998)
- The Color of Money (1986)
- The Godfather: Part III (1990)
- The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)