'Spring Breakers,' set to open nationwide this weekend, shows a "darker" side of St. Pete Beach

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. - As the initial images of Spring Breakers plays out, it looks like… Well, let Tampa Bay Times Film critic Steve Persall explain it.

"Spring Breakers is as if Quentin Tarrentino did one of those Frankie and Annette-type movies," he told me. "It's very much in that vein.  Very violent.  Drug soaked.  Sex soaked.  Profanity-laden."

It was just about this time last year that the crew and cast of Spring Breakers descended on the Coral Reef Resort on Gulf Boulevard, creating that make-believe reality.

"They were pretty self-contained." said Dale Schueneman, General Manager of the timeshare Condo community of the same name that shares a pool with the abandoned motel property where the film was lensed over a month's time in Spring, 2012.  "They brought all their own stuff.  They stayed to themselves, their own security.  It was kinda exciting."

And despite the less-than-savory subject matter, it was super exciting for the folks over at the County's Film Commission.

"This is what gives us 'cred.'" said Jennifer Parramore, the Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Film Commissioner.   "Anybody can love 'A Dolphin Tale.'  That's cute.  That's nice.  It's a real tourist attraction.  But what filmmakers now know is that we are a real film-making destination."

It sure caught one film's director's eye:  "The stuff seemed unique," said Harmony Korine.  "The architecture, the vernacular, the colors of the sky.  I liked it."

But not everybody likes the image that's portrayed.

"I live eight blocks away from that location, and we've never seen anything like that there," said St. Pete Beach Mayor Steve McFarlin.  

"So," I asked, "It's not your St. Pete Beach?"  He said, "No."

But the Mayor says he hasn't seen the final cut, so he's reserving specific comment.

"I don't know how many times they mentioned St. Pete Beach in the movie, so that's the magic question right now."

And the Mayor says he'll be at the multiplex this weekend as the film rolls out locally and nationwide. 

In limited release over last weekend, it banked over a quarter-million dollars on only three screens.  Clearly, it appears a lot of folks are interested in "Spring Breakers."

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