Tower-ing Fiction #4: 101 Park Avenue, Entrapment (1999), Marvel's The Avengers (2012), Gremlins 2 (1990)

by Shawn Gilmore

This will be the first entry of Tower-ing Fiction that examines a real tower used either fictionally, or even as itself, across a number of media properties. These entries may be updated with further uses as they are documented.

101 Park Avenue, New York City

101 Park Avenue

Completed in 1982, 101 Park Avenue is a 629-foot (192 m) skyscraper with 49 floors, located in Midtown, New York City. It occupies more than half of the block bounded by Park Avenure, E 40th and E 41st Streets, and features a diagonal façade that creates a unique triangular plaza on the corner of Park and E 40th.

With its distinct glass exterior and accessible plaza, 101 Park Avenue has been featured in a number of films and television series, as outlined on its filming page. This is likely aided by its proximity to Grand Central Terminal (just a block away) and the Crysler Building a couple of blocks north-east.

This entry will include some prominent examples of its appearance on film.

 

Entrapment (1999)

101 Park Avenue serves as the site of the opening set-piece of the heist thriller Entrapment (dir. Jon Amiel, 1999), with a helmeted thief descending from the roof to a window on the main face of the building. The first shots are framed by 101 Park’s iconic neighbors, the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings.

Entrapment (dir. Jon Amiel, 1999)

Entrapment (dir. Jon Amiel, 1999)

The thief uses a controlled descender to dangle mid-way down the building, with the descent repeatedly framed by 101 Park’s disctinctive triangular plaza.

Entrapment (dir. Jon Amiel, 1999)

Entrapment (dir. Jon Amiel, 1999)

Stopping mid-way down the glass front, the thief creatively opens a window, shot so that the Empire State Building stays in frame for geographic reference. This unique method of entry is then explained by Gin (Catherine Zeta-Jones), the film’s insurance investigator protagonist, who (spoiler) was the thief herself.

Entrapment (dir. Jon Amiel, 1999)

Entrapment (dir. Jon Amiel, 1999)

Entrapment (dir. Jon Amiel, 1999)

Entrapment (dir. Jon Amiel, 1999)

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

During the main action set-piece in Marvel’s The Avengers (dir. Joss Whedon, 2012), the Battle of New York (MCU wiki), a number of Midtown New York landmarks are featured to locate the main battle along Park Avenue. [A later entry in Tower-ing Fiction will cover the Stark/Avengers Tower, built from the partially-demolished base of the MetLife Building, three blocks up from 101 Park Avenue.]

In this sequence early in the battle, a damaged Quinjet avoids multiple buildings as it heads north on Park Avenue toward 101 Park, cruising in to the plaza, before slamming into the concrete (with “101” on the façade visible through the windshield), before an over-head shot establishes its resting place.

Marvel’s The Avengers (dir. Joss Whedon, 2012)

Marvel’s The Avengers (dir. Joss Whedon, 2012)

Marvel’s The Avengers (dir. Joss Whedon, 2012)

Marvel’s The Avengers (dir. Joss Whedon, 2012)

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

101 Park Avenue stands in for the fictional Clamp Premiere Regency Trade Center and Retail Concourse in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (dir. Joe Dante, 1990). As the headquaters of the businesses run by Daniel Clamp—a hybrid of Donald Trump and Ted Turner—the Clamp Center (Gremlins wiki) is the site of nearly all of film’s action, its exterior plaza the home of the Clamp logo, crushing a globe.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (dir. Joe Dante, 1990)

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (dir. Joe Dante, 1990)

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (dir. Joe Dante, 1990)

101 Park’s location and proximity to Grand Central and the MetLife (or, at the time, Pan Am) Building are well-established:

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (dir. Joe Dante, 1990)

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (dir. Joe Dante, 1990)

And again later in the film, when a bat-Gremlin breaks out:

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (dir. Joe Dante, 1990)

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (dir. Joe Dante, 1990)

While the climax hinges on the sloped windows and triangular plaza allowing two cranes to lower a fake night sky in front of the lower portion of the building.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (dir. Joe Dante, 1990)

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (dir. Joe Dante, 1990)