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Shot On Site - Won't You Take Me To Chinatown

 By Paul Rudoff on Aug. 2, 2012 at 12:00 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters 1, Filming Locations , Tags:

Welcome to Spook Central's special "Shot On Site Summer" event. Throughout the Summer, I've been posting Shot On Site articles on Spook Central detailing newly-discovered Ghostbusters filming locations. Click here to view the current schedule. This location is unique in that two unrelated shots were filmed here, both from the same montage in Ghostbusters. You know the first, no doubt, but you'll never guess the second. During the "Ghost Fever Grips New York" montage, Peter and Ray are shown in Chinatown being rewarded with Peking Duck by a restaurant owner for a job well done.


The movie actually gives us a big clue as to where this shot was filmed, but it wasn't until the release of the movie on Blu-ray that we were able to get a somewhat good look at that clue. In the background behind Ray's head is a somewhat dark sign with the restaurant's name on it:


That's an actual 1:1 ripped-straight-off-disc screen shot portion you see up there, and I bet it's still a bit hard to read isn't it? Damn that Blu-ray graininess! Anyway, I typed in what I thought it said into Google, and thankfully, Google technology was smart enough to determine what it should have been, and brought me back an old phone book listing for Tai Hong Lau Restaurant at 70 Mott St., New York, NY 10013. The next step was to use Google Map's Street View photography to determine if that was, indeed, the correct location.

(Tai Hong Lau at 70 Mott St., October 21, 2006, taken by Robert K. Chin)

That sign seen in the movie is gone. The distinctive red building seen in the background of the movie shot is gone. In fact, damn near ALL of the identifiable landmarks are gone. I was only able to identify that it was the correct place due to one remaining distinct characteristic: the railing! The railing on that building has such a distinct pattern that, coupled with the old phone book listing for the restaurant name that's barely readable in the movie, tells me that it's the place.


And here's a comparison with the full movie shot which shows that, although Tai Hong Lau Restaurant is the prominent location seen in the Peking Duck shot, the car and the guys were actually standing in front of the store at 68 Mott Street (currently House of Vegetarian - who definitely WON'T be serving Peking Duck!). You can actually see that they're standing right next to the green rail/pole that's in front of 68 Mott, thus showing you the exact spot where you'll need to stand to recreate the shot. That said, I give the location as 70 Mott Street, and the credit to Tai Hong Lau Restaurant (currently Hon Cafe), since that's the prominent location seen in the shot.


The other Chinatown shot from the movie wasn't as easy to identify as that one was, nor will it be as easy to show you how the current location matches up to its movie counterpart. Unlike the other shot, which I identified, this shot was identified by Matthew Jordan. Also unlike the other shot, this one gives you no indication that it's even IN Chinatown!


Yes, the shot of the guys jogging down the sidewalk, which was the very first shot ever filmed for the movie, was in Chinatown. More incredible than that: it's on the same street as the Peking Duck shot. Even MORE incredible than that: all they did was turn the camera around 180 degrees! Yes, the guys jogged up Mott Street from #56 to #64.


Since the movie shot was filmed pointing down the sidewalk, so all you see are the sides of the stores, and I'm going to work with photos showing the fronts of the stores, it's gonna be a bit tricky to do a comparison. I'll start by comparing a few things from the left of the movie shot, and then I'll compare a few landmarks on the right of the movie shot.

The points of connection on the right would be easiest to see at 56 and 58 Mott, which is Wonton Garden and New Serendipity Jewelry in the photos I have. The first identifiable thing you see in the movie shot are Wonton Garden's twin aluminum railings with rounded corners. In the middle movie shot segment you see Wonton Garden's rounded aluminum-framed window and the vent beneath it. In the background you can also see the column of the building next door. In the right movie shot segment you see the steps and old railing from 58 Mott/New Serendipity Jewelry.


It's the three right-side landmarks in the movie shot that help us determine exactly which stores/buildings they were jogging past. You'll notice that the guys pass a large silver street pole (in front of 58 Mott), a thin green pole/rail (in front of 60 Mott), and a fire hydrant (in front of 64 Mott).


Considering what the movie shot gave to work with, I think it's a small miracle that Matthew was able to make an identification.

For more information about Ghostbusters filming locations, be sure to check out the rest of Spook Central's Shot On Site articles, Spook Central's Filming Locations page, and Chris Stewart's Shot On Site articles. Thanks Chris for letting me use your awesome title. Title graphic drawn by Paul Kinsella.


This brings up something I hope will be addressed in a future blog…. Now that we all but mapped out the first movie (only two to go) and hit even more of the locations of the second movie, One must ask…. Where are the franchises near New York and why is there no interest in getting pictures taken at all these locations? Sure Paul can id the locations like crazy, but what ever Ghostbusters Franchises go down there and actually takes photos of the same camera angled shots today would really benefit everyone. We need You!

Aug. 2, 2012 @ 12:35
Comment from: [Member]

I second the call to arms for NYC-based franchises to take photos at the newly-identified locations. I was planning on writing a post about this when I got the chance, but I’m glad someone mentioned it sooner - and also because I’m still not sure just what to write.

Are there any NYC-based franchises? It would be awfully sad if that’s the one place in the world that doesn’t have one.

Aug. 2, 2012 @ 15:53

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