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MISS CONGENIALITY 2 ARMED AND FABULOUS

Treasure Island Pirate Show
The film's showpiece stunt is set at Treasure Island's Siren show, where hundreds of tourists assemble daily for the live outdoor performance of battling pirate crews and a defeated ship that sinks into the lagoon. 

Some footage was captured on site, with cast and crew swimming in the cold water or clambering around the sides of the sculpted tank for a number of key shots, but the larger part of essential and underwater filming was done with a meticulously constructed scale replica on Warner Bros. Studios' Stage 16 in Burbank. Here, Pasquin had control over the elements (a sudden windstorm in Las Vegas can whip the Treasure Island lagoon into something resembling the inside of a blender) and myriad safety concerns as well as the mechanics of raising and lowering the vessel on cue. 

Stage 16 boasts one of the deepest soundstage water tanks in the world. Originally a shallower pool where the studio shot the Spencer Tracy classic The Old Man and the Sea, among other films, the tank was re-excavated and expanded from eight to 22 feet deep to accommodate director Wolfgang Petersen's needs for the 2000 seafaring epic The Perfect Storm. Now, with dimensions of 95' x 100' x 22', it provided Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous adequate space for the 52-foot by 14-foot replica portion of the pirate ship as well as the hydraulics system required to move its bulk above and below the waterline.

"We knew from the beginning it would be impossible to film the interior of the actual Treasure Island ship,” says art director Andrew Cahn, who re-teams here with production designer Ahmad following their recent collaboration on the comedy Dodgeball: An Underdog Story. "The inside is basically an open hull, full of mechanics and hydraulics; it's a very cramped space and has no floor, which people cannot see from the street. We needed to show the mechanics but also a fictitious galley with space to allow for a whole dramatic sequence.” 

Based on Pasquin's perspective and director of photography Peter Menzies Jr.'s specific camera needs, as well as photographs and measurements of nearly every inch of the existing model, the 52-foot section of ship was designed. Made of steel and fiberglass, it was built in 8 sections in a lot in West Hollywood, then transported to the stage on trucks and reconstructed – a procedure spanning eight weeks. 

In addition to duplicating the look of the original, special effects coordinator Burt Dalton explains how the production strove to simulate the rate, speed and angle of the ship-sinking as it occurs in the Las Vegas show through the use of three powerful 10-foot hydraulic cylinders. "We're duplicating the action at Treasure Island; that ship doesn't sink straight down, it tilts on an angle. Three huge steel jacks support our ship and platform. When the beams underneath are activated by the hydraulics the platform pivots and lowers to push the ship completely underwater, so we can show the actors inside as it's beginning to fill. You'll see leaks first and then the water will start flooding in until the actors and the whole set are completely underwater. Each time they want another take, we clear the actors out, bring the ship up to position one and dry it. The actors get dry, put on new makeup, get back in position and we do it all again.” 

To raise the ship set, all 50,000 pounds of it, the procedure is reversed, with a drainage system to get the water out. Everything is controlled by computer, to ensure smooth and precise motion and to monitor pressure, balance and possible safety hazards on a second-by-second basis. As high-tech as all of it is, Dalton jokes that his #1 foolproof contingency plan leans more toward the traditional: "Disconnect everything and get a really big crane.”

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