Broadway Tunnel to close for film car chase Sunday

On Sunday, cars will scream through the Broadway Tunnel, zooming under low-flying helicopters and then squealing around corners in the Financial District — but only until director Philip Atwell yells “cut!”

The tunnel and some downtown streets will be closed for several hours Sunday. They’re the site of a car chase in Jet Li’s latest movie, “Rogue,” due out in 2007.

According to his Web site, Li plays the “infamous assassin” Rogue, who kills the partner of Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Jack Crawford, played by Jason Statham, starting a “bloody game of cat and mouse.”

Most of the film was shot in Vancouver, San Francisco police Sgt. George Carrington said, but the car-chase scene will be filmed in San Francisco, closing the Broadway tunnel from 8 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

The chase will be filmed from above, using a helicopter-mounted camera, Carrington said. “We asked them to long-lens the shots, so it [the helicopter] can maintain a relatively decent altitude while they’re shooting it,” Carrington said.

According to the Web site of The City’s Film Commission, San Francisco played host to an average of 8.9 film crews per year between 1995 and 2005. The year with the most shoots was 2003, with 10. In 1995, five movies were filmed here.

Only one film was made in 1969, 1970 and 1976.

While the number of films that use The City as a backdrop has not declined significantly in recent years, Carrington said crews are using The City for less and less time.

The production crew of the third “X-Men” movie, whose climactic scene takes place in the Bay, spent about a day and a half filming scenery, then superimposed the action using computer animation, Carrington said.

In hopes of luring production crews to The City for longer hotel stays, more restaurant meals and more money spent at other local businesses, the Film Commission recently began offering tax rebates to filmmakers who shoot the majority of their pictures in The City.

Under the program, if more than 55 percent of a movie with a budget of less than $3 million is filmed in San Francisco, the production company can get a rebate of all city fees. For filmmakers with budgets of more than $3 million, at least 65 percent of the movie must be filmed in The City.

Several television shows have been filmed regularly in San Francisco. Most recently, “Nash Bridges,” starring Don Johnson, filmed here five days per week.

“That’s why I have gray hair,” Carrington said. “They were a huge show, as far as equipment was concerned, and Don Johnson was very demanding. He wanted all his equipment on location.”

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