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‘Munger Road’ returns to theaters; sequel set

Nick Smith diretor/writer 'Munger Road' works with Oscar-nominated actor Bruce Davisduring filming St. Charles Bartlett last summer.

Nick Smith, the diretor/writer of "Munger Road," works with Oscar-nominated actor Bruce Davison during the filming in St. Charles and Bartlett last summer.

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Updated: November 3, 2012 6:15AM

ST. CHARLES — Teens excited by the horrific suspense of the St. Charles-made film “Munger Road” can get a second helping of the original this week, and can expect a sequel to come out at Halloween time next year.

The original “Munger Road” was shot in St. Charles in 2011, with St. Charles native Nick Smith writing and directing, and stars that included Hollywood veteran Bruce Davison.

The story is based on a belief held by many west-suburban high school students that ghosts haunt the spot where a Canadian National Railway line crosses Munger Road in rural Bartlett, a few miles northeast of St. Charles.

In the movie, four teenagers dare the ghosts by parking near the crossing late at night just as the city is preparing for its annual October Scarecrow Festival. Meanwhile, an insane serial killer has escaped back in St. Charles, and city officials fearful of scaring away visitors to the festival try to keep a lid on the story.

The movie was released at first only on two screens at the Charlestowne 18 Cinemas in St. Charles, on Sept. 30, 2011. But it drew so many moviegoers — many of them teens who had challenged the Munger Road superstition themselves in their cars — that the movie received national attention. Show business news organs reported that the film had brought in the highest box office receipts per screen in the U.S., and total receipts for its “engagement” — one movie being shown at one cineplex — were among the top 10 in the country.

More Chicago-area theaters scrambled to book the movie, and Smith began getting phone calls from Hollywood studios.

Last Friday, the Charlestowne 18 started showing the movie again for this Halloween season. As Smith signed autographs for fans in the theater lobby, he said he plans to start shooting the movie’s second half this spring.

Since the first story’s plot leaves much unsettled, it was obvious that Smith had always had a sequel in mind. The brisk ticket sales have made it possible to finance that, Smith said.

“It’s all ready to go. We’ll be shooting in St. Charles again, and the sequel will be out next fall,” Smith said. “This one will take place as the city is actually celebrating the Scarecrow Festival.”

After Part One became such a hit in its first week of very limited release, Smith said, 33 theaters agreed to book it and it went on to take in $266,000 at the box office. “We were pretty much able to cover the Chicago market.”

He declined to say how much it cost to make the first film.

Meanwhile, he said, Part One is available on DVD through Amazon, can be ordered on demand from iTunes, and will be available at Walmart starting Oct. 5.

Smith said he has been splitting his time this year between St. Charles and California for the past year, and has been working on screenplays for two more movies, also in the suspense/mystery genre.

“But later in my life,” he said, “you’ll see a romantic comedy from me. I promise.”

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