Maneuvering NYC: The Empire State Building
The cast and crew ventured to New York City to shoot for three days. Two days were shot atop the iconic landmark Empire State Building (ESB) observation deck, and one day was outside the Empire State Building entrance on 5th Avenue.
Oblivion filmed on the top of the deck, in the southwest corner on the 86thfloor. The crew set up in 33 feet in each direction from the southwest corner and made that space their home, though the deck was operating as per usual with more than 10,000 visitors on any given day. Many tourists were excited upon their visit to one of America's most popular tourist attractions to catch an unexpected glimpse of Cruise at work.
It was challenging to get equipment up to the 86th floor, but the ESB staff was accommodating and let the crew use freight elevators to load in and out. When shooting on the city streets near 5th Avenue, news traveled fast that Cruise was filming. Crowds of fans from all over the world gathered to takes photos, wave and say hello to the performer on the set. Between setups, Cruise signed autographs and took photos with the onlookers.
The duality of re-creating Manhattan was not lost upon the director: "We built the observation deck of the Empire State Building in the side of a hillside in Iceland and shot the flashback scenes on the actual Empire State Building in New York City the week before. So we had some very surreal moments where one week we were standing in the middle of Manhattan surrounded by 14 million people, shooting a scene overlooking this incredible metropolis, and a week later we're standing on the exact same set in Iceland... with not a person to be seen for hundreds of miles."
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