Murder at Yellowstone, a new Western murder mystery movie, celebrated its premiere in Houston at CITYCENTRE’s Studio Movie Grill. Australian director and producer Richard Gray, its two Houston producers Julie Stagner and Kelly Frazier, and actors Zach McGowan, Scottie Thompson and Isabella Ruby all took to the red carpet.
Friends, family and movie buffs chatted with these movie makers over cocktails, tea and other refreshments.
Murder at Yellowstone begins when a former slave named Cierco arrives in the desolate Yellowstone City, Montana, a “former boomtown now on the decline,” looking for a home. On the same day of his arrival, a local prospector strikes gold — and is swiftly murdered.
As the story unfolds, the Western whodunit touches on themes of justice, truth and “doing the right thing,” Stagner says.
“The films about what America was like in 1881. . . people from everywhere just settling in Montana after the civil war,” Gray says. “The town is very accepting. But the sheriff decides, when there’s a murder in town, that he’s going to take the easy option and arrest the new cowboy in town. Half the town is with him and half the town is against him.”
When evidence is uncovered that Cicero cannot be guilty, it takes the town’s women to band together and their risk lives to investigate deeper.
“It’s a true testament to what was happening between 1875 and 1885 in Montana,” Gray says.
After working in Montana and falling in love with the state, Gray decided to build Yellowstone Film Ranch, the set specially created for the movie from scratch. Built just outside of Livingston, Montana, the project took three years to complete.
“The Houston connection comes in when Scottie (Thompson) who has been in three of my previous movies introduced me to Kelly (Frazier), Julie and Steve Stagner and they just fell in love with the story,” Gray says. “More than two-thirds of this production are Houston based.”
Following the screening, Gray and Julie Stagner stood up in the front of the theater audience to say a few words.
“It’s a dream come true and you grow up thinking you want to make a Western movie from the eastern suburbs in Melbourne, Australia. . . and to be here tonight in Houston with all these people that made it happen is pretty special,” Gray says.
“It’s a dream I know Richie has had all of his life and it’s become our dream too,” Julie Stagner says. “And we’re so happy to share it with you.”
Murder at Yellowstone City opens this Friday, June 24th, streaming on Apple TV and showing in a few select theaters, including Pearland’s Studio Movie Grill and Austin’s Galaxy Theaters, where it will show once a day at 11:15 am.