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Real estate agent Ryan Serhant‘s penthouse unit in New York City’s Milan Condominium is like many of the power broker’s listings: It comes with a seven-figure price tag, has striking city views and private terraces, and will appear on Million Dollar Listing New York, the Bravo show that Serhant has starred on since its inception. What sets this midtown Manhattan penthouse apart from the rest is that the 2,500-square-foot unit starred in this year’s Oscar-nominated film The Wolf of Wall Street.
Well, practically starred in: The 32nd-floor condo with floor-to-ceiling windows was rented out by Martin Scorsese‘s production crew while Leonardo DiCaprio filmed in an identical spread one floor above. But that little detail didn’t matter in terms of the explosion of interest that followed the film’s release.
“The movie was like a commercial for the building,” says Serhant, a Nest Seekers International agent and actor who recently finished filming for director Noah Baumbach‘s upcoming While We’re Young with Amanda Seyfried and Ben Stiller. “If I’d known this would happen, I’d try to get all my listings into a movie. Advertising can’t buy this kind of exposure and the way people see the movie and connect it to real estate and New York City.”
The bottom-line effect? Serhant upped the list price from $6.3 million to $6.5 million. “We raised the price after the movie was released,” he says. “This apartment has been discussed everywhere now, including in print stories in China. I’m confident we can get that price.”
On the other side of the country, Lydia Sarkissian felt a similar set-location ripple effect in Marin County, Calif., where she sells luxury properties for clients such as Andre Agassi and Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker. The agent had a seven-figure listing that had gone on and off the market for more than a year in the upscale town of Tiburon — this despite the fact that it boasted dead-on bay views and Robin Williams as a neighbor two doors down. Then Blue Jasmine was released and the house, where Peter Sarsgaard woos his faux-interior decorator love interest Cate Blanchett, suddenly came with big-screen cachet.
“The owner wanted to capture the exposure right after the film came out,” says Sarkissian. “We even said that the house was featured in the movie on our MLS [Multiple Listing Service] ad.”
Requests to view the home tripled, and the Woody Allen story of a socialite’s fall from grace became part of the property’s pitch: “I would take people out onto the terrace and show them where they’d filmed,” she says. “I even got a couple of guys in here saying, ‘This is Dwight’s [Sarsgaard’s character] house!’ ” The home sold for its asking price of $3.8 million in February.
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It’s not just realtors benefiting from screen time: Patrick Ediger, co-founder of L.A.-based French American Wallpaper, wasn’t sure why he had a sudden uptick in orders for his geometric white-and-silver Boudoir Mirror wallpaper last December. “We had an upshoot in requests. And it wasn’t until recently that I put it together that it’s the paper we put in the model unit where they filmed Her,” says Ediger of one of the movie’s locations, downtown L.A.’s WaterMarke Tower, where units rent for $3,000 to $15,000 a month.
Even when locations are far from inspiring, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. In 12 Years a Slave, production designer Adam Stockhausen turned a former mule barn at Destrehan Plantation in Louisiana into a cotton sorting barn with fibers strewn on the floor, ladders and ceiling. The slave-era scenes didn’t put a dent in the Destrehan’s booming wedding business: “Last year was our best ever for weddings,” says the site’s executive director, Nancy Robert. “We have 38 weddings booked for 2014 and 20 lined up for 2015. What they did for the barn in 12 Years a Slave, you would not recognize it at all for weddings. It’s got a rustic look that brides love. We’ve got quite a business.”
This story first appeared in the March 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
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