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'West Side Story' Returns To Paterson For Special Screening

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Steven Spielberg's movie adaptation of "West Side Story" premiered in Paterson on Tuesday afternoon.

CBS2's Leah Mishkin spoke to businesses that benefited from the production in the city.

The crowd was ready to watch its city on the big screen.

"They just changed everything here and you felt like you were actually in New York City in the 1950s," Mayor Andre Sayegh said.

PHOTOS: "West Side Story" Film Premiere In New York City

Pictures from the set were captured by Leigh Scheps from Inside Edition Digital. Filming took place in August of 2019. Sayegh said the production generated tons of money for businesses in the area.

"When they needed materials, they went to a local hardware store. When they needed food, they went to a local restaurant," Sayegh said.

"Every day, between 50, 60 to 100 crew members walking around the streets of downtown," added Orlando Cruz, executive director of Downtown Paterson Special Improvement District.

Sweet Cheese Deli's manager, Angela Tavarez, told Mishkin the storefront was transformed into an old fashion radio store. Inside it was a breakfast spot for the crew.

"I had a kick with everybody. It was just fun. It was a good experience. I have a memory book of it," Tavarez said.

The manager of the wig shop across the street said the store had to close for a few days, like other shops, but was compensated.

"It was actually real nice. It was real different," JJ Wig's Rose Rojas said.

"At the end of the day, the pros of what the businesses and local economy benefited from shortly outweighs the cons of traffic and some street closures," Cruz added.

When asked if any of the big scenes were filmed in Paterson, Sayegh said, "Well, that would be like a spoiler alert, but I'm pretty sure because I could hear from my office the song 'I Love to be in America.'"

"Are you going to rebrand Paterson as the West Side Story city?" Mishkin said.

"I already rebranded Paterson home of the Great Falls, great food, great future and now great filming. A few months after West Side Story was filmed, Aaron Sorkin came and filmed the 'Trial of the Chicago 7,'" Sayegh said.

The New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission says $20 million was spent in Paterson and Newark, where part of West Side Story was also filmed. The state is also hoping it will get a big financial boost with extra tourism.

CBS2's Leah Mishkin contributed to this report.

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