MANSFIELD - Even though it's still two years off, the groundwork is being laid to get Hollywood actors Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman to appear at "The Shawshank Redemption" 25th anniversary celebration in August 2019.
"We'll invite the entire cast including Tim and Morgan and director Frank Darabont," said Dan Smith, creative marketing director at the Ohio State Reformatory, where much of the film, "The Shawshank Redemption," was filmed in 1993 in and around Mansfield. The movie was released in 1994.
The 25th anniversary is expected to exceed the 20th anniversary celebration, Smith said this week.
"We will be partnering with our friends at Destination Mansfield (the convention and visitors bureau) and the Shawshank Trail movie sites, including the famous woodshop in Upper Sandusky," he said.
Smith said the prison-turned-museum, operated by the Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society, is planning a video at the end of this summer to be put on social media with 500 to 1,000 fans of the film at OSR in an effort to give a shout out and encourage the film's stars to return to the scene of the movie set.
Tours of the prison on Ohio 545 are offered daily and already visitors can see rooms inside the historic prison being transformed into replicas of the movie sets as seen in the film.
The goal is creating a Shawshank Museum within OSR complex, joining the new Ohio State Penitentiary Museum, set to open in June, and the planned North Central Ohio Industrial/Manufacturing Museum.
"We are making it feel like you walked into that movie scene," Smith said of the Shawshank rooms, from drapes to lamps to blinds and chairs.
"Warden Norton's room is completely redone from the floors to the walls and has furniture just like in the film," Smith said.
Other rooms include the parole board room and Brooks' room, the latter where visitors can sit on a bed similar to the one in the film.
"It's a growing attraction. With social media a lot of people are learning about us that might not have known this was filmed in Mansfield and that OSR is a place you can come and tour," Smith said.
"We can see the power of Shawshank," he said. "We embrace it. We like to cater to the fans. We're fans ourselves."
Upper Sandusky also attracted filmmakers to its courthouse and lumberyard, as did Malabar Farm State Park near Lucas and many sites in and around Richland and Ashland counties.
Bill Mullen, who with his wife April, operate Stephan Lumberyard in Upper Sandusky, said he hopes to have the bus that Robbins rode into the prison in the film completely restored by 2019, along with the ambulance that inmate Boggs left the Shawshank prison in.
Warden Norton, also known as actor Bob Gunton, attended the 20th Shawshank anniversary event in 2014 and met with fans along with several other actors in the film.
Lee Tasseff, president of Destination Mansfield, Thursday said tours have increased every year at OSR.
"Nothing gets us more attention than anything Shawshank related," Tasseff said.
When the old prison first opened in 1896, initially housing 150 young offenders, its presence was the result of a long campaign by local leaders who wanted a prison built. The castle-like structure, incorporating elements from Victorian Gothic, Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne architecture, housed more than 155,000 men before it closed Dec. 31, 1990 and a new prison, Mansfield Correctional Institution opened nearby.