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Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 5:10pm

Movie Becomes Tourist Attraction

Savannah residents got their first taste of what Spongebob Squarepants will be doing to the Historic District today.

The animated character, or more precisely, the Paramount Pictures production crew filming a movie featuring him, took over several streets downtown.

The overall mood was one of a spectacle.

Residents and out-of-town visitors alike stood on the sidewalks taking pictures.

A crowd at the intersection of Drayton and Broughton Streets reported seeing the film's live action star, Antonio Banderas.

That particular intersection was taken over by a studio prop that resembled a pirate ship.

Mr. Banderas himself was photographed in a swash-buckling pirate's outfit.

A block away, production assistants were busy moving cameras, lighting and other film-making equipment.

They also were placing tropical plants, including palm trees, along area streets.

That's because much of the Broughton Street corridor has been refreshed to resemble a seaside village.

The storefront colors are bright and beach-inspired.

The production crew also placed signs on many of the facades to give the illusion of shops in an animated, underwater fantasy world.

Some business owners reported concerns about the street closures and what will happen to all of the street renovations after the production wraps up next week.

But others seemed unfazed by all of the hubbub and expected no change in their business.

One thing is certain, however.

The production is a minor attraction downtown, especially for tourists.

A couple from Atlanta walked out of their Broughton Street hotel on Wednesday morning and didn't know what was happening.

They lingered, watched the production and made small talk with a local restaurant employee, who also was fascinated by the scene.

Nearby, a boisterous group from Wisconsin talked loudly and excitedly at the corner of Abercorn and Broughton Streets, which is now the corner of Breezy and Port Streets, the main location of today's production.

But they hushed when a nearby production assistant yelled "Rolling!"

After a brief take involving a taxi and a wind machine, they clapped.

None of the animated characters are expected.

They'll be digitally edited into the scenes.

The production will be in various downtown locations through next week.

They're expected to film every day except Sunday.