This month, Long Island MacArthur Airport will add A-list actors Liam Neeson and Julianne Moore to the growing number of stars who have graced its baggage claims and security gates in the past few years since the airport started doing regular business with production companies that want to film there.
"Production companies and major companies who want to film commercials are coming to MacArthur for the same reason people like to fly MacArthur," said Islip Town Supervisor Tom Croci. "It's convenient, friendly, hometown and it's state of the art, and you can do it without all the crowds."
For a week starting Wednesday, the town-run commercial airport plays host to Neeson and Moore during the filming of "Non-Stop," an airplane action-thriller, in which Neeson apparently plays an air marshal who receives messages threatening to kill passengers aboard a nonstop flight.
Islip Town spokeswoman Inez Birbiglia said the airport was the site of filming for nine projects in 2012, including independent films "Looking for the Jackalope" and "American Dreams in China." With each shoot comes a fee for the airport, and Birbiglia said MacArthur will have received $150,000 from its various film projects since the start of 2012, including $71,000 for "Non-Stop" to film at the airport Jan. 2 to 9.
Production companies started filming at MacArthur in 2008 when several scenes of the independent film "Every Day," starring Helen Hunt and longtime Long Islander Brian Dennehy, were shot at the airport. Former airport management said they enjoyed the experience, and began accommodating more requests to shoot there, even starting a page on the airport's website to recruit production companies.
Since then, major stars like comedian Louis C.K. have worked at the airport, where he filmed several episodes of his hit FX series, "Louie." In late 2011, reggae rapper Sean Paul filmed a music video for his song "She Doesn't Mind" at MacArthur.
"There has been a push to have a lot more movies and TV shoots in the New York metro area," said Mike Geiger, director of Republic Airport in East Farmingdale, where HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" shot its season finale in October and where shows such as "Pan Am," "Damages," "The Apprentice" and "Ugly Betty" have all been filmed.
In its most prolific year of film projects, state-owned Republic, a general aviation facility, unlike commercial airport MacArthur, pulled in about $100,000 in fees from various productions, Geiger said.
"It provides a decent amount of income, and there's very little cost for us, especially when they're not using the runways," he said. "They're spending money in the community also, so it's nice that they're spreading the money around. It's not just the airport that's benefiting, it's the Farmingdale area, too."