Twisters Summer Blockbuster Continues Oklahoma’s Hollywood Streak - 405 Magazine

Twisters Summer Blockbuster Continues Oklahoma’s Hollywood Streak

Let’s twist again - Oklahoma is officially in its film era.

(from left) Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glen Powell, and Director Lee Isaac Chung on the set of Twisters. Provided by Oklahoma Film and Music Department.

Between the 10-time Oscar nominated film Killers of the Flower Moon and Sylvester Stallone’s smash hit show “Tulsa King,” production companies are flocking to Oklahoma. This year’s summer blockbuster Twisters, in theaters July 19, is the latest movie entirely shot in the Sooner State. 

We are a long way from Hollywood — so why, all of a sudden, does it seem that we have so many movies being made here? Jeanette Stanton, director of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office, explains that Oklahoma is one of several states offering major incentives to bring studios to town. During the credits of a movie, there is a long list of vendors used that were imperative to filming; everything from construction crews hired to build sets to wardrobe, food and beverage, even hotels where the cast and crew stayed. The state’s incentive program ensures that these jobs are filled by local vendors, offering 20-30% cash back for all waged employees associated with the production, up to $30 million a year. 

(from left) Kate (Daisy Edgar-Jones), Javi (Anthony Ramos), and Tyler (Glen Powell), in Twisters directed by Lee Isaac Chung. Provided by Oklahoma Film and Music Department.

“The purpose of our program is to be an economic driver and a job program. We use the film incentive program as a business development tool for local companies. We also recruit from outside the state to production companies of all sizes to come to Oklahoma, put local people to work and spend money in our communities,” Stanton said. The incentive program is broken up into two tiers, with some money designated for smaller, independent productions and some for the major studios like Paramount or Universal. Stanton noted, “We have made that part of our business model. We want to support films across all spectrums.” 

With Twisters, the sequel to the iconic 1996 disaster film, Universal Studios spent 60 days shooting across Oklahoma, in addition to several months here both before and after filming. Champion Hotels, a vendor used during the filming of Twisters, reported over 10,000 hotel nights booked. Over 1,000 Oklahomans, between vendors and extras, were associated with the project, sometimes even involving entire towns, like the city of El Reno. Filmmakers have to work together with the city government to undertake such a huge project, often shutting down entire streets for days to get the perfect shot. As a thank-you to the town, a huge block party was thrown by the city of El Reno which included renting out their local theater to screen the original Twister for free. This seems only fair, as in the movie trailer the El Reno water tower can be seen tumbling to the ground. 

Glenn Powell as Tyler, in Twisters directed by Lee Isaac Chung. Provided by Oklahoma Film and Music Department.

Producers spent time at the National Weather Service in Norman to learn how a tornado looks and moves, as well as learning about equipment used to recreate it for the film. Several local storm chasers can be spotted in the film, including KFOR’s own Brian Winslow. With advanced effects, fans of the original film aren’t likely to be disappointed with the adrenaline-pumping, edge-of-your-seat roller coaster the upcoming Twisters is set to provide. 

If you want to learn more about Oklahoma’s film industry, the Oklahoma Film and Music Office has a robust website at Stay up to date with what is filming — and showing — in our great state. 

(from left) Lily (Sasha Lane) and Tyler (Glen Powell), in Twisters directed by Lee Isaac Chung. Provided by Oklahoma Film and Music Department.

Sidebar: Hail to the Chief

Another film shot in Oklahoma to check out this summer is Reagan, starring Dennis Quaid. This biopic follows the life of America’s 40th president from childhood to his time in the Oval Office, as told by a KGB agent. Reagan is out in theaters Aug. 30.

Interested in more information on the Oklahoma Film Scene? Check out this article.