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MONTGOMERY, Alabama – It’s a big week for Alabama actor Grayson Russell and the star-studded cast of Space Warriors, a movie shot at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville that again puts the Alabama film industry in the spotlight.

On Thursday evening (April 25), the Space and Rocket Center hosts a red-carpet premiere for the movie about a group of middle school kids who get caught up in a mission to save astronauts on the International Space Station. The film opens nationwide at select theaters on Friday (April 26).

Russell, who plays Rusty Riggs in Space Warriors, is scheduled to make a special appearance from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on opening night at the Carmike Patton Creek 15 in Hoover. (Russell is shown at the bottom left of the Space Warriors poster shown below.)

“We are so excited to have an Alabama actor as one of the lead characters,” said Kathy Faulk, manager of the Alabama Film Office, a division of the Alabama Department of Commerce that facilitates entertainment production projects in the state.

Clanton’s Russell, a freshman in high school, made his film debut in comedian Will Ferrell’s Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, in which he played Ferrell’s son, Texas Ranger. Russell played Fregley in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid trilogy. He recently completed filming A Season of Miracles alongside actor John Schneider, which is set for release later this year.

Space Warriors was directed by Sean McNamara (Soul Surfer) and mostly filmed on location inside the Astrotek building at the Space and Rocket Center, an increasingly popular destination for film projects. The movie’s cast includes Danny Glover, Mira Sorvino, Dermot Mulroney and Josh Lucas. Besides Russell, the film’s young actors include Thomas Horn, Booboo Stewart and Thomas Kasp.

The Space Warriors premiere follows on the heels of a highly successful debut for 42, the film that chronicles how Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball. 42, filmed partly in Birmingham, recorded the most successful opening weekend launch for a baseball movie this month.

“This is very rewarding for the Film Office staff and those who have been involved in these two projects since their inception, to view the final products and see our state showcased so well,” said Faulk, who expects the state’s film industry to get a boost from the two April premieres.

Space Warriors also means another turn in the spotlight for the Space and Rocket Center, which last year was the film location for the Hallmark Hall of Fame made-for-television movie A Smile as Big as the Moon. The movie had more than 13 million viewers when it aired on ABC and the Hallmark Channel, boosting attendance at the center’s family space camps.

Alabama’s film industry experienced a record year for projects in 2012.

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