Maybe it was director Shawn Levy’s dimpled grin as he talked about featuring the Smithsonian in his new movie. Or perhaps it was producer Tom Hammel’s description of how they planned to reunite Amelia Earhart with her beloved Lockheed Vega in the Museum. In any case, when the crew from Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian first met with us, I had a sense this project was going to be fun.
Almost two years later, after script discussions; contract negotiations; numerous phone meetings; a 4-day shoot on location last summer; a trip to visit the set in Vancouver; a star-studded premiere and press junket; and the opportunity to see a talented and precious Capuchin monkey named Crystal perform, I am still smiling.
Of course, the Smithsonian would never have lent its name to the movie if the project hadn’t been family-friendly and supportive of the Smithsonian’s identity, goals and mission. But Shawn and Tom, who both have little kids, maintained that the sequel would turn children on to museums, just as the first movie had. After watching the movie with kids, I’m betting youngsters will soon be begging their parents to see the Wright Flyer and the Ruby Slippers.
The movie comes out in theaters nationwide today. There has been lots of publicity and, in addition to promoting the movie, cast members said so many wonderful things about the Smithsonian. It was a thrill to see Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria and Robin Williams, here on the National Mall. I do have one regret, however. Crystal couldn’t make it to the premiere. Darn!
Claire Brown is Director of Communications at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.