A Hollywood movie will premiere in a South Dakota town that’s its namesake at the end of this month.
The short-lived HBO series, “Deadwood,” only lasted for three seasons before being canceled 13 years ago.
But streaming services have brought in new fans.
The Black Hills town is preparing for its moment in the spotlight.
The Wild West was resurrected in the HBO’s award-winning series Deadwood fifteen years ago. The story followed characters, both historical and fictional, as the Deadwood grew from a camp in the 1870’s to a full-fledged town and eventually part of the annexed Dakota Territory. The three-season series was an economic boost for the Black Hills tourist town.
“It was amazing the amount of people around the country who were so excited because they’d seen Deadwood on HBO and they were really excited to come and visit Deadwood. At first they are always surprised that we don’t have muddy streets and boardwalk,” Deadwood Mayor Dave Ruth Jr. said.
Ruth Jr. is a 5th generation Deadwood resident.
“Personally I’m a fan as well. I was so disappointed when HBO decided to cut the series short after three years. It felt like there was a gap. It felt like there was more of a story to be told,” Ruth Jr. said.
Now that story will be told in the new HBO movie, which picks up a decade after the series final season.
Deadwood’s characters are reunited to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood. The movie is expected to be as colorful and rough and tumble as the show.
“There were some that were surprised; didn’t expect the blue language, but most everyone is really proud because it really tells our history,” Ruth Jr. said.
While some of the characters are fictional, many are based on real-life former Deadwood citizens, like federal marshal Seth Bullock, saloon owner Al Swearengen. The show’s creators were careful to check with local historians for accuracy.
” Even after the series of off the air, for years, people would come to town and they’d ask us about it. And they’d ask us what’s real and what wasn’t real and they were always surprised to find out a lot of key characters were real people here in Deadwood and a lot of their history you can find in the museums and up in their burial places in the Deadwood cemetery,” Amanda Kille of the Deadwood Chamber & Visitors Bureau said.
That cemetery has the remains of the two most well known of all Deadwood outlaws. The graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane lie on top of a large hill overlooking the town.
In the 1800’s the promise of gold in these hills brought pioneers to Deadwood. These days in people mine for treasure in the form of gambling.
But the premiere of the May movie is expected to bring Deadwood’s checkered past back to the forefront again.
A series that gets its wrap up movie, that never happens, ever–so this is kind of a little movie miracle to the HBO series,” Kille said.
“We still embrace our Wild West history and it’s a place they can come and still feel like that outlaw,” Ruth Jr. said.
The movie premiere is Friday, May 31 at the Deadwood Mountain Grand at 6 p.m. with doors opening about an hour beforehand.
Following the movie, Deadwood actor W. Earl Brown’s Band Sacred Cowboy will perform.
500 free tickets will be available, with half of those becoming available May 9.
the rest will be first come first serve on the day of the premiere.