Hollywood films are packed with action, drama, and jaw-dropping sequences. The majority of the films are shot in the United States and neighboring countries. The country’s filming locations range from beautiful beaches to wild coastlines, and include Los Angeles, New York, Virginia, and Georgia. So, whether you want to sit where Forrest Gump waited for the bus or canoe in the waters where Noah and Ally paddled in ‘The Notebook,’ these hot spots welcome you to tour former sets, watch current productions being filmed, and take in the breathtaking scenery.
Here’s a list of a few cities where most of the classic Hollywood films were shot:
New York City
Some consider ‘The Godfather’ (1972) to be one of the greatest films ever made. Several scenes in this critically acclaimed film were shot in and around the city. The classic wedding scene on Staten Island highlights the impressive estate at 110 Longfellow Avenue in the Emerson Hill neighborhood. The christening scene in Manhattan was shot inside Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mulberry Street in Little Italy, and Genco Olive Oil’s storefront was on nearby Mott Street.
There are a few notable filming locations in the city for the Academy Award-winning ‘Birdman’ (2014). Edward Norton and Michael Keaton walk in front of the St. James Theatre, where a Broadway show is being performed. Get a drink at The Rum House in Hotel Edison, where the film’s bar scenes were shot. Of course, the most memorable filming location is Times Square, which Keaton jogs through in his underwear at night!
Wilmington, known as ‘Hollywood East,’ has hosted over 400 films and TV shows, ranging from blockbusters like ‘Iron Man 3’ to independent films and TV series. The area is an ideal location due to its diverse geography and beautiful surroundings, which include a charming downtown riverfront, rural countryside, and three expansive beaches.
For on-set experiences, look for tours at EUE/Screen Gems Studios, Wilmington’s sound stage lot that has completed over 350 films, television shows, and commercial projects since 1985. After touring, dine like a celebrity at Catch, a Gwyneth Paltrow favorite during ‘Iron Man 3’ filming, or Ports of Call in Southport, where Julianne Hough celebrated her 23rd birthday during ‘Safe Haven’ filming. Southport, located 48 kilometers south of Wilmington, served as the setting for the film ‘Safe Haven,’ based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel of the same name. Stroll through Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, which served as the setting for Hough’s character Katie and Alex’s kiss (played by Josh Duhamel).
As you travel further into South Carolina, imagine yourself walking down cobblestone streets shaded by trees. Charleston, a lovely port city, entices visitors with Southern hospitality and historic sites that transport them back in time a few hundred years. With natural beaches nearby, it’s no surprise that the city has seen a surge in filming as filmmakers attempt to capture all of the charm and natural beauty on land and at sea.
‘Notebook’ stars Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling filmed scenes in old Charleston-area plantations like the Boone Hall Plantation and the Calhoun Mansion. Stroll along The Battery, a historic defensive seawall and promenade, and walk in the footsteps of famous actors and actresses. Middleton Place, America’s oldest landscaped gardens, also served as the backdrop for scenes in ‘The Patriot.’ Drive north for 30 minutes to Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, which has been featured in numerous films.
The 22 public squares in Savannah’s Historic District are one of the best things about your last stop. These shaded parks entice visitors to sit for a while and take in the scenery. Around the squares, you’ll find historic homes, museums, ornate cathedrals, cafes, theaters, and nightlife hotspots. Explore on foot or by trolley to see them all and marvel at the history dating back to the late 1600s.
In 1997, the film ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ introduced international audiences to the hauntingly beautiful city of Savannah. The film’s locations included The Mercer Williams House, Forsyth Park, the Tomochichi Federal Building (a national historic landmark), Churchill’s Pub, and the haunting Bonaventure Cemetery.
While Tom Hanks’ bench from ‘Forrest Gump’ is now housed in Savannah’s History Museum, the iconic bus stop scene was shot in Chippewa Square. The 1991 thriller ‘Cape Fear,’ directed by Robert Redford, shot several scenes in Savannah, as did ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance,’ which was set in Savannah and filmed throughout South Carolina. The film follows Captain Rannulph Junah, a Savannah native and disillusioned war veteran, as he learns to master the game of golf in a state known for its golf courses.