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On Location

Making your business the star of the big screen could mean big bucks and local exposure.

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This story appears in the December 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When Steven and Scott Parker rented out Watson Drugs, their 1950s-era drugstore and soda fountain, to the Hollywood film community, it was more than a favor. For this father-and-son team, permitting Tom Hanks and his crew to film the 1996 movie That Thing You Do! in their Orange, California, establishment was a way to keep their business alive.

No strangers to filming, Steven, 43, and Scott, 60, had allowed both TV and film to be shot within their vintage walls since Scott purchased the store in the 1970s. "When [Hanks' crew] filmed here, we were having a really hard time keeping our heads above water," says Scott. The rental fee paid by the production helped get Watson Drugs over the rough spot. More important, the film drummed up sustained interest in the store and the local community. Today, wide-eyed tourists regularly visit Watson Drugs to the tune of more than $4 million in annual sales.

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