WILLIAMSBURG — Spider-Man can squeeze into small spaces and crawl up walls — but his film crew is struggling to emulate their hero as they attempt to find a way out of a round of controversy from the Hasidic community over their planned Passover shoot.
After Hasidic Jews and local politicians decried Columbia Pictures' "culturally insensitive" plan to block off four streets for filming in South Williamsburg during the holiday, the company has agreed to shoot only indoors and to close just one-half block instead.
“We expressed the importance for Spider-Man to pass-over filming during Passover and they have answered our call," Williamsburg Councilman Stephen Levin said in an email. "Reducing the amount of parking the production uses will avoid the parking struggle that had been anticipated and will allow everyone celebrating the opportunity to safely enjoy the holiday with friends and family.”
Levin continued in the email with a tongue-in-cheek message to the friendly neighborhood superhero himself: "Thank you for letting my people park."
Columbia Pictures, which is filming "The Amazing Spider-Man" inside the Marcy Armory, will now use a nearby parking lot for equipment when it shoots from March 22 — 27, said Rabbi David Niederman, director of the United Jewish Organizations, which held a meeting to form a new plan.
"This is a wonderful agreement...Most importantly my concern was what would happen with the trucks and trailers passing over the streets during the holiday," he said of the film vehicles. "That itself would create a real hazard and a threat to children who are out of school on the streets and to the elderly."
But some Hasidic leaders, like Gary Schlesinger, slammed the new "compromise," which they said still disrespected the sacred time.
"There shouldn’t be a compromise. It’s the holiday. This shouldn’t be done during Passover, period," he said of filming in the neighborhood. "Whether taking up half a block or three-quarters of a block, this doesn’t belong during Passover period."
A spokeswoman from the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment said the new plan was the best possible balance between the needs of the city's movie industry and of the Hasidic culture's traditions.
“After discussions between our office and local community leaders, it has been determined that the production will have a small footprint at the Armory, utilizing only half a block of parking outside the building while the majority of its vehicles will be contained in private lots," said spokeswoman Marybeth Ihle. "The filming that is scheduled to take place there will happen in the interior of the Armory only."