An abandoned Tampa bank building becomes the glamorous setting for John Travolta's new movie The Punisher.
By DONG-PHUONG NGUYEN
Published September 23, 2003
TAMPA - It's a former bank building, long vacant.
Boring, by most accounts.
But inside, where the tellers once stood behind glass, there's now a dance floor and a bar.
The empty structure at 400 N Ashley Drive, the one connected to the round high-rise, has been transformed into a snazzy nightclub. But it's only temporary.
The nightclub was built for scenes in the movie The Punisher, which has been filming in Tampa and surrounding area for the past two months.
On Monday, a purple sign bearing the nightclub's name, Saints & Sinners, hung on the side of the building. A big red halo floated above the name.
It was a curious sight at the former Bank of America offices.
In the film, the nightclub is owned by Howard Saint, the character played by John Travolta. The movie's main characters, including Travolta, are expected to film at the "club" for the next three days, beginning tonight, said publicist Amy Johnson.
"It's a pretty spectacular set," Johnson said. "It's very slick."
Outside, set designers have put up two torches; inside, there's a raised dance floor where bank customers used to lounge. There are also chic tables and stools and a large bar with a big metal halo hanging above a display of alcoholic drinks.
On Monday, workers poured iced tea into a funnel to fill empty liquor bottles. They used food coloring for tint.
Among the extras at the club will be County Commissioner Pat Frank, who was told to wear "nightclub attire;" she'll be filmed getting out of a car. Mayor Pam Iorio's schedule indicates she'll also be at the filming, with her husband, Mark Woodard, the Pinellas County budget director.
The movie, being shot at 52 locations in Tampa, is in town for a few more weeks, Johnson said.
Based on a Marvel comic book series, the film is about an undercover FBI agent who dishes out vigilante justice after his wife and child are murdered.
After filming wraps up, workers will take down the Saints & Sinners set and haul all the props away, leaving the former downtown bank vacant again, for now.
"We hope to be able to lease the property," said Jennifer Burrell, the building's general manager. "We need to find a good use for it."
- Staff writer David Karp contributed to this report.