Getting in the Game
The Big Easy hosts a "Grudge Match"
Though the film is set in Pittsburgh, "Grudge Match" was filmed in New Orleans,
Louisiana. Filmmakers shot second unit aerials and exteriors for the film in
Pittsburgh, but the extreme winter weather in the northeast is tough and
unpredictable for filmmakers on a tight schedule. With the
Mississippi River winding its way through New Orleans, the city's extensive
bridges, levees and older architecture made it a suitable stand-in for the
"This was the first experience I had shooting anything in New Orleans and the
people here were fantastic. This was the best crew I've ever worked with," Segal
says. "And the 500 extras we had in that fight arena were also the best extras
I've ever worked with. It was really a wonderful experience."
The first scene Stallone shot is the first time we see the older Razor in the
film, when he arrives at Benson Shipbuilders to a round of applause following
the airing of the HBO documentary about famous rivalries. The building is
actually the Bolland Marine company warehouse on Tchoupitoulas Street, a few
doors down from the Corporation Bar & Grill on South Peters Street where they
filmed the diner scenes in which Razor sees his friend and former shipyards
The scenes at Razor's house were filmed at a home in the historic Algiers
neighborhood of New Orleans, under the span of the Crescent City Bridge over
several foggy, wet days and nights that made it look and feel a lot like winter
in Pittsburgh. Production designer Wynn Thomas created an interior for Razor's
house that looked like it hadn't been touched since the early `80s, when Razor's
life changed forever with the cancelled third match.
Kid's memorabilia-filled Knocked Out Bar finds Razor's arch rival replaying his
glory days in dinner theatre, the punch line and punching bag for a puppet. The
interiors of the bar scenes were filmed over several days in the heart of the
French Quarter at the Palm Court Jazz CafĂ© on Decatur Street.
Logistically, the filmmakers could not stage the UFC sequence with the actors
at a real UFC event, so they shot footage of an actual fight in Las Vegas. In
New Orleans, they built a tight set with bleachers around the trademark octagon
cage. Standing in front of the octagon, real-life UFC announcer Mike Goldberg
talks to Kid and Razor about their upcoming Grudgement Day match. Jones combined
the Vegas fight footage and plates with the scene featuring the actors.
The filmmakers were fortunate to find their Grudgement Day venue at the
University of New Orleans' Lakefront Arena, which offered a 10,000-seat facility
with offices and parking lots large enough to stage the event and accommodate
the production's needs. The filmmakers were also able to shoot the YMCA training
and pool punching scenes with Razor and Lightning, as well as a few exteriors,
at the adjacent UNO Aquatic Center.
Logistically, the fight was the biggest sequence in the film and its staging was
likewise immense with extensive lighting, more than 500 extras, the HBO video
cameraman and commentators, the extensive visual effects and additional crew.
Scheduled for five days, it was shot during the final week of De Niro and
Stallone working together and proved a memorable event for cast and crew alike.
With the HBO Boxing logo and lighting grid above the ring, shafts of blue and
white spotlights dancing across the arena floor, the UNO Lakefront Arena was
transformed into an HBO Pay-Per-View event. When the time finally came for De
Niro and Stallone to walk through the tunnel into the arena, a hush came over
the awestruck audience and crew.
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