When Mexican customs almost ruined the filming of ‘The Mask of Zorro’

Antonio Banderas as Zorro. (Photo: Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

A movie like The mask of Zorrothe 1998 classic starring Antonio Banderas Y Anthony Hopkinsit could not be shot anywhere other than Mexico. The setting of his story in Alta California at the beginning of the 19th century, where the character of Don Diego de la Vega tried to instruct the aspirant Alejandro Murrieta, made it ideal to leave Hollywood and cross the border to impregnate his story and scenarios with truth. . Nevertheless, recording in Mexican territory was not exactly an idyllic adventuresince a customs problem almost puts the entire shoot at risk.

To put it in context, at the end of the 90s, Mexico became one of Hollywood’s favorite destinations to carry out the production of its films. beyond that The mask of Zorro it will be shot in the country by narrative logic, the lower cost of labor and land to build the sets, led major studios to shoot some of their big titles in locations near the US border. It was the case, for example, of titanicwhich built several of its water tanks and models in the town of Rosarito, south of Tijuana, which, after all, was less than three hours by car from Los Angeles.

Antonio Banderas as Alejandro Murrieta / Zorro. (Photo: Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

Antonio Banderas as Alejandro Murrieta / Zorro. (Photo: Ronald Siemoneit/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images)

However, despite this economic benefit, the need to move material and equipment from one country to another made the task very difficult, since the controls at the border were very strict. And more if what you wanted to introduce in Mexico were weapons to record action movies. That’s how I told it to Variety in 1998 the producer Conrad Hool, responsible for titles such as Crocodile Dundee in Hollywood or Man on Fire who has been producing films on the other side of the border since the 70s.

According to his words, western or action films continually faced long waits to transport these artifacts, since the United States military closely monitored arms trafficking between the two countries and, even if it was a mere filming by powerful Hollywood studios, no exception was made. Like any ordinary person who wanted to pass a gun, they had to do a lot of paperwork that took time to process and that, on occasion, has caused setbacks in shooting schedules, as was the case with The mask of Zorro.

As Hood recognized, the producers of the Antonio Banderas film found themselves in a bind because part of the essential material of the recording was seized for nine daysand among this material was what we could consider the most important of the entire film. “The producers of The Mask of Zorro were frustrated last month by customs agents when they held a large quantity of items for nine days. These included such vital accessories as Zorro’s own sword.indicated the article of those years based on the words of the producer.

The funny thing is that it wasn’t even a real sword, but a plastic accessory that under the hand of Antonio Banderas or Anthony Hopkins what we call the magic of cinema was achieved. It is likely that, being a mere prop, the tape’s producers did not raise the possibility that customs officers would think it was a weapon, leading to a misunderstanding that would keep the material on hold for longer and, ultimately, a misunderstanding. consequently, to a headache to reframe the recording schedule and prevent the shooting from going under.

Fortunately, The mask of Zorro came to fruition. Filming was completed in Mexico without further serious complications and the film was released in theaters around the world between the summer and winter of 1998. With an estimated budget of $95 million, it managed to raise $250.2 million and reintroduce the character. of Zorro on the radar of popular culture, leading to a sequel being given the green light in 2005 and Antonio Banderas beginning to be recognized for putting himself under the shadow of the mythical black hat and mask.


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When Mexican customs almost ruined the filming of ‘The Mask of Zorro’

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