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Lemmon site for movie premiere of 'The Revenant'

LEMMON, S.D. -- A small South Dakota town will roll out the red carpet for the premiere of a big screen movie that highlights a true and grizzly event that happened there nearly two centuries ago.

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Hugh Glass Rendezvous co-chairpersons LaQuita Shockley and John Lopez will host a special one-evening, red-carpet affair for the Dakota premiere of "The Revenant" Jan. 6 at The Palace in Lemmon, S.D. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

LEMMON, S.D. -- A small South Dakota town will roll out the red carpet for the premiere of a big screen movie that highlights a true and grizzly event that happened there nearly two centuries ago.

Many in Lemmon are hoping “The Revenant,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, will make its star rise because of its connection to the story of a mountain man’s near fatal attack by a female grizzly bear.

Lemmon will host the premiere in special arrangement with 20th Century Fox studio on Jan. 6, the only early showing in either of the Dakotas prior to its general release two days later.

“The Revenant” is based on the true story of Hugh Glass, fur trapper, who joined a wilderness expedition in 1823 and suffered a vicious mauling at the claws and teeth of a grizzly near Lemmon at the confluence of the north and south forks of the Grand River. Glass was left for dead by two of the company men ordered to remain with him while the main expedition pressed on.

As history tells it, despite being grievously shredded, injured and stripped of his belongings, he crawled and struggled 200 miles across the prairie seeking revenge against the men who took his weapons and abandoned him.

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LaQuita Shockley, Lemmon newspaper publisher, is helping plan the movie premiere in town.

“We’re going to play it up and make it an event,” she said.

The premiere will be a fundraiser, with $40 VIP tickets good for special seating and a swag bag and $20 tickets that come with a concession certificate. The premiere tickets will be available Dec. 28 through a phone-in call center. Shockley said the 200-seat Palace Theater will be decked out in a red carpet theme and moviegoers will be given a paparazzi moment.

To add to the atmosphere and photo opp, local scrap metal artist John Lopez will move his Hugh Glass sculpture to the front of the theater for the premiere.

The sculpture was completed this summer and is Lopez’s vision of the moment of the attack, with the grizzly up and roaring while Glass struggles to defend himself and save his life. It was unveiled during the town’s first highly successful Hugh Glass Rendezvous this summer, held near the site of the attack at what is now Shadehill Reservoir. Any proceeds from the premiere will be used to stage the second annual rendezvous Aug. 26-28, Lopez said.

“We’ll do our best to make sure everyone knows our connection to the story,” said Lopez, noting that local people and others familiar with the Hugh Glass story will notice the artistic license taken in the screenplay compared to historical accounts.

Lopez also created a YouTube video of the location of the grizzly attack that has gotten more than 9,000 views.

The movie cost $135 million and was filmed in Alberta, Canada, and in Argentina when the snow melted early in Alberta. It was directed by Alejandro Inarritu, winner of last year’s Best Director Oscar for “Birdman” and is said to have the potential for an Oscar win for DiCaprio, who ate raw bison liver in the character of Glass and “fought” with a live, trained grizzly in the attack scene.

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Following the premiere, the movie will be shown at The Palace the weekends of Jan. 8 and Jan. 15.

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