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Producer Frank Marshall and Others Share Marathon Memories at ‘Boston’ Documentary Premiere

Variety logo Variety 4/16/2017 Dave McNary
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The past and present collided on Saturday night at the world premiere of “Boston: The Documentary” for executive producer Frank Marshall, 37 years after he ran the Boston Marathon.

The premiere at Boston’s Boch Center Wang Theater took place four years after the Boston Marathon bombing killed three and injured several hundred. The 121st running of the marathon, the world’s oldest, takes place on Monday.

Marshall, who’s been nominated for five best picture Oscars (“Raiders of the Ark,” “The Color Purple,” “The Sixth Sense,” “Seabiscuit,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”), said the 1980 race is still clear in his mind.

“I remember the race vividly, much more than the other 14 marathons I ran,” he mused. “It was warm like it will be Monday and I had to run a marathon in under two hours and 50 minutes to qualify. For us amateurs, Boston is the Olympics and Mecca.”

Marshall said he was particularly enthused that the film will get a one-night release on April 19 in more than 500 theaters via Fathom Events.

“That’s a real release,” he added. “What I love about the movie is that people who aren’t runners will enjoy it because you get to see so many different sides of it. The benefits are obvious — the New York Times just had an article about how an hour of running can add seven hours to your life.”

Marshall persuaded Boston native Matt Damon to narrate. The Boston Symphony provided the score for the film. The Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra performed for the premiere, conducted by the composer, Jeff Beal.

Producers are Dunham, Megan Williams and Eleanor Bingham Miller. Marshall, Tom Derderian and David S. Williams exec produced.

Jon Dunham, who’s directed a variety of marathon movies, said “Boston” had been in the works for more than a decade before he committed to it in late 2012.

“The 2013 race changed everything for us,” Dunham said. “It’s still very much what we wanted to do, but that and the 2014 race really gave us a focus for the film.”

The premiere was full of history with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh touting the Boston Marathon as “the greatest race in the world” and Meb Keflezighi, who won the men’s race in 2014 at the age of 38, in attendance. Keflezighe, the first American man in 33 years to win the marathon, promised that Monday’s race will be his final in Boston.

Also on hand was Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to compete as a numbered entry (with bib number 261) after she registered under the gender-neutral name K.V. Switzer. The film features the infamous footage of race official Jock Semple trying to rip off her bib and being knocked to the ground by her boyfriend Tom Miller in 1967.

“We eventually became friends and I ran the race officially six times,” she noted. “I’ve been announcing it on WBBJ for 37 years and I’m running the race Monday for the first time since 1976.”

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