Sean Christie is the show runner at Encore Beach Club.
Standing within eyeshot of his perpetually happening nightclub Surrender, Sean Christie positions himself at the head of a craps table. Slimly built, wearing a tuxedo shirt with a casually undone bow tie, a gorgeous woman at his side, and equally hot dice in his right hand, he cuts a dapper figure. Christie comes off as the consummate high roller, with a bit of inside knowledge and a good chance at a decent-sized score. Then a heavyset fellow bumbles up to the felt, fishes for cash, fumbles his chips, and, well, we can all guess what happens next.
The scenario could have come right from the world of Christie, who until recently was an avid dice player. But no. It’s an example of art imitating life in Las Vegas. Christie is playing a character; the clumsy gambler is Kevin James portraying Paul Blart (of Paul Blart: Mall Cop fame). The scene is one of many being shot at Wynn and Encore for the sequel to the misadventure, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, built around the oafish security guard’s attempts to recover valuable artworks stolen from Steve Wynn.
With the state of Nevada offering juicy tax incentives to lure Hollywood productions, this movie represents the property’s cinematic debut—and Christie, managing partner of the hot spots Surrender, Encore Beach Club, and Andrea’s, is the main reason. He has been charged with finding films that can shoot at Wynn properties, a mandate that came directly from Steve Wynn and Maurice Wooden, president of Wynn Las Vegas. “Mr. Wynn and Maurice came to me and told me that I’m in a unique position from dealing with the corporate culture of the hotel, the club crowd, and the Hollywood crowd,” says Christie, a lifelong nightclub man who cut his teeth in Boston’s after-hours scene. “During 14 years in Las Vegas and taking care of those people at my clubs, I’ve gotten to know them. I spent last summer meeting with studio heads and telling executives that we’re interested in being involved, even though we had not been interested in the past.”
Producer Todd Garner, director Andy Fickman, actor Kevin James, and Sean Christie on the set of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 at Wynn Las Vegas.
Indeed, Steve Wynn turned down the producers of The Hangover, a movie that did wonders for Caesars but might not have been up to Wynn standards. And while a Paul Blart offering might sound plenty déclassé for the ritziest casino resort in Las Vegas, certain aspects of the production made it particularly appealing. To begin with, says Christie, “The script was rewritten to be Wynn-specific. It shows off lots of our outlets and public spaces and signature amenities around the resort. The hotel is a costar in the movie. That appealed to Mr. Wynn.” It also surely didn’t hurt that Wynn himself gets a cameo.
This is actually not Steve Wynn’s first time hosting a Hollywood production. Back when he owned the Golden Nugget, it was the location for Chevy Chase’s 1997 film Vegas Vacation. More recently, just prior to his sale of Bellagio to MGM Resorts, the movie Ocean’s Eleven was shot there. So he knows what he’s doing in this arena, and he knows what he wants.
Skylar Grey, Andrea Wynn, and Sean Christie at the first anniversary party for Andrea’s at Encore Las Vegas.
You might assume that Wynn and Christie would insist that filming take place during the graveyard shift, when it would inconvenience as few hotel guests as possible, but quite the opposite is true. “Coincidentally,” says Christie, “when I shot my scene for the movie, that was the grand opening of Encore Beach Club at night. We were right in front of the club, and people walking by wondered why I was being filmed. Even though there was an interruption to the hotel and casino, we wanted to intentionally shoot where people could see it. It’s okay to be a little cumbersome. Part of the attraction is for people to see Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 being shot at Wynn. It’s another takeaway for when they return to their hometowns.”
With shooting now over, Christie has returned full-time to his real gig with three of the most popular destinations in town—where the performers this summer will include Macklemore, Avicii, and David Guetta—but another on-location production is already in the offing. And smart money says it won’t be the last time you see Wynn and Encore at the movies. “When you’re viewed as being opulent and the best,” Christie says, “people want to be involved with you.”