Heading Backstage: The Most Famous Movies Filmed in Each State


| LAST UPDATE 07/05/2022

By Arianna Morgan

From the beautiful red-rock landscape in Utah for Danny Boyle's 127 Hours to the freezing cold Alaskan landscape for Sean Penn's Into the Wild, here are some of the most iconic movies from each state!

Vermont: Beetlejuice

Let's start off with a classic: Beetlejuice. Viewed as one of Tim Burton's best, the creepy yet family-friendly film took place in the rural town of Connecticut. But it was actually filmed in East Corinth, Vermont.

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One of the most star-packed films of all time, this 1988 cinematic masterpiece starred Alex Baldwin, Winona Ryden, Geena Davis, and Michael Keaton. The Vermont-based movie follows the ghosts of a dead couple who find themselves dealing with a rather irritating couple who took over their house.

Alabama: Big Fish

Another Tim Burton film, Big Fish, follows the story of a son trying to figure out the mysterious tales of his dying father and all that comes with it. Starring Ewan McGregor, Jessica Lange, and Albert Finney, the saga is set in Ashton, Alabama - and was actually shot in Alabama.

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This magical 2003 Tim Burton story was shot in the charming old town of Wetumpka, Alabama - and what a perfect town for shooting it was! Big Fish featured 'Bama staples, such as Auburn University and Jackson lake Island right outside Millbrook, Alabama.

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Arizona: Psycho

Directed by the one and only Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho was Hitchock's most successful film to date and set the groundwork for all horror movies to follow. The critically-acclaimed horror film was filmed in Arizona, and another great western state, California.

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This 1960 horror story follows a secretary, Marion, in Phoenix, Arizona, who suddenly goes on the run after stealing money from her boss. Her sister and her lover go on an adventure trying to find her and land up at the one and only Bates Model, home to Norman Bates.

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Utah: 127 Hours

127 Hours tells the true story of Aaron Ralston, a mountain climber who was on a hiking adventure when things went terribly wrong, and he was trapped in a canyon. Filmed in Utah, director Danny Boyle captures the beautiful scenery of Utah and the ultimate survival tale.

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Following the movie's success and Boyle's magnificent way of capturing the red-rock landscape, Utah's tourism spiked immediately! The tourism board quickly implemented "127-hour itineraries" that gave visitors possible routes to follow when visiting the Beehive State.

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Hawaii: Jurassic Park

One of the most successful Steven Spielberg movies of all time, Jurassic Park was a huge hit in the 1990s. Known for its cutting-edge special effects and animatronics, the sci-fi/action adventure was based on the novel written by Michael Crichton.

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The action-packed film was shot in Kauai, Oahu, and Maui. The cautionary tale captured the downfall of an amusement park displaying genetically re-created dinosaurs to show the mathematical concept of chaos theory - and all the real-world disasters following it. There's also a great ride at Universal Studios in L.A.!

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California: Terminator 2: Judgement Day

With Hollywood being the epicenter of most major movie productions, there is definitely no lack of films with the City of Angels being represented on the big screen! Terminator 2: Judgement Day, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is one of the many that show off the beautiful region... and also one of our favorites.

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James Cameron's Terminator sequel follows the cyborg and his mother and son that he protects in order to prevent a potential nuclear apocalypse. Just the casual California story. The film showcases California's beauty from Long Beach to Santa Monica, and the famous nuclear nightmare was shot at the Elysian Park in Los Angeles.

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Alaska: Into the Wild

Another breathtaking movie location and true story, Into the Wild, tells the story of a young 22-year-old college grad who was ready for the ultimate adventure. Christopher McCandless decided to hitchhike across America and landed in the snowy and beautiful Alaska.

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Sean Penn's 2007 hit film was filmed in the deep Alaskan wilderness, exactly where the movie takes place! The dedicated crew made four separate trips to Alaska during the entire filming process in order to properly capture the four changing seasons and all their glory.

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Wyoming: Brokeback Mountain

Shot in the beautiful and grand landscapes of Wyoming, Brokeback Mountain was set in the fictional Brokeback Mountain - ideal for week-long fishing trips. The film tells the tale of two cowboys, Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger, who share a forbidden romance.

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Both actors were praised for the unbelievable acting, as well as director Ang Lee who won an Oscar for the film and became the first Asian to win an Academy Award for directing. The 2005 movie was shot in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, and throughout Alberta, Canada.

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Wisconsin: Bridesmaids

A comedy classic, Bridesmaids, was filmed in several spots of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The 2011 all-female lead comedy took place in the cheese state and captures scenes in South Kinnickinnic Avenue, Mitchell Street, and West Cameron Avenue in Milwaukee.

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However, the iconic film was only filmed in Wisconsin for a few days to set the groundwork for the film. The rest was actually filmed in different areas of California. The film follows Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, and Melissa McCarthy as the hilarious ladies compete for the bride's affection.

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Delaware: Dead Poets Society

One of Robin Williams's best films, Dead Poets Society, filmed by Peter Weir, follows the story of an English teacher at a prep school who introduced his students to the world of poetry and left a forever impact on them. The 1989 teen drama took place in Middletown, Delaware.

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Dead Poets Society is the first Hollywood film to be shot entirely in Delaware, and Williams was later nominated for an Academy Award for his role. The Welton Academy where the film takes place is really the St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Delaware, as well as other New Castle and Middleton landmarks, like Everett Theatre.

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New York: Goodfellas

A Martin Scorsese classic, Goodfellas follows a mobster in the Italian-American mafia, Henry Hill. The New York City-based movie is filmed entirely in the city that never sleeps, starring Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci. Pesci later won an Oscar for his outstanding performance portraying Tommy Desimone.

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The crime drama film Goodfellas was an ode to New York City and its goodness! The movie was shot in popular spots such as Astoria, Brooklyn, New Rochelle, Fort Lee, Staten Island, Coney Island, and all over Manhattan. We love a good film dedicated to NYC!

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Ohio: The Shawshank Redemption

Although this famous Stephen King story takes place in Maine, it was actually shot in Ohio! The Shawshank Redemption stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, two men who became great friends while imprisoned in Shawshank at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio.

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Due to the extreme popularity of the film, the abandoned prison became a massive tourist attraction, known as "The Shawshank Trail." The '90s crime/drama thriller didn't do massively well at the box office but is still regarded as one of Stephen King's best films to date.

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Maryland: Wedding Crashers

Regarded as one of the funniest movies of all time, The Wedding Crashers, stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as two bachelors who professionally crash weddings to meet women. The cult classic is set in Maryland and is shot at a variety of locations in the Free State.

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A big chunk of the film was filmed in St. Michaels, Maryland, Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland, and around Washington, D.C. The movie's main event, the greatest on-screen wedding reception, occurs at the Perry Cabin, a Maryland hotel and restaurant.

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Louisiana:12 Years a Slave 

12 Years a Slave is based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was wrongfully tricked, kidnapped, and later sold into slavery in Louisiana in 1841. The Academy Award-winning film was shot in Louisiana over the course of a few weeks in 2012.

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The biographical drama took place all over New Orleans, Louisana, in addition to other locations, which were pivotal for the storyline. The sites used were four antebellum plantations: Felicity, Bocage, Destrehan, and Magnolia. Magnolia plantation is closest to the actual plantation where Northup was held.

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West Virginia: The Deer Hunter

This war drama from the late '70s had quite the star-studded cast! Roberto De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale, and Meryl Streep all starred in The Deer Hunter, a movie of three friends who join the army to fight during the Vietnam war and then are captured by the enemy.

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The epic war drama was shot between Thailand and the United States, Clairton, Pennslyvania, and good old West Virginia. Specifically, the production used the small towns of Weirton and Follansbee for exterior shots and used West Virginia's steel mills and factories to play the small industrial town vibe.

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Illinois: Ferris Bueller's Day Off

One of the most adored movies of all time, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, was a giant love letter to the city of Chicago. The iconic 1986 comedy follows Matthew Broderick, a.k.a Ferris Bueller, as he ditches high school one day to have the ultimate day off with his best friend and girlfriend.

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Director John Hughes absolutely loved Illinois, where many of his movies were filmed. In the iconic comedy, viewers see all of Chicago's hottest attractions during Bueller's great day off. This movie is a Chicago classic - from Wrigley Field to the Art Institute, Willis Tower, and Lake Shore Drive.

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Kansas: In Cold Blood

The movie's rendition of the novel In Cold Blood was directed by Richard Brooks. The story follows the real-life events of two ex-convicts who come up with a plan to steal from a rich family, the Clutters, who live in Kansas. But things take a turn when the two men decide to kill the family. 

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Brooks wanted the movie to be as real as possible, which is why he chose to film many of the scenes in Kansas. In fact, the cast and crew even headed down to the real Clutter family farm where the story actually took place! The family who lived in the house got $15,000 in compensation for the 4 weeks they used it while filming.

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Rhode Island: Moonrise Kingdom

Director Wes Anderson took us on a charming trip down memory lane with this 2012 classic film. Moonrise Kingdom takes place in the fictional island of New Penzance, otherwise known as an isle in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island! So what were some of the most recognizable spots?

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Moonrise Kingdom is set in 1965 off the coast of New England, where two two-year-old love birds run away together, causing an entire search team to run after them. The movie highlighted parts of Jamestown, Newport, Rockville, South Kingston, and Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, for this adventure story.

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South Carolina: The Notebook

Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling stole the spotlight in The Notebook, making people everywhere believe in true love! This romance film was set during World War II when a wealthy young woman and poor young man fall in love and realize each other's love is the only one they ever need.

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The bestselling novel turned movie was partly due to the charming and romanticized filming locations. Though the movie was set in North Carolina, the film was mostly shot in Charleston, South Carolina, with scenes highlighting Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner and Boone Hall Plantation in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

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Pennslyvania: Rocky

"If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change," said the wise Rocky Balboa. Rocky, one of the greatest sports dramas of all time, starring Sylvester Stallone, tells the story of a poor young Italian-American from Philadelphia who starts as a club fighter, only to become a professional boxer.

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The film was primarily filmed throughout Philly, highlighting some of the city's best. In one of the film's most iconic scenes, Stallone runs past the Philadelphia City Hall, through the Italian Market, and up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of art. The steps are even known as "Rocky Steps," with a statue of Rocky at the bottom.

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North Carolina: Dirty Dancing

I've Had The Time of My Life might as well be engraved into our memories at this point. The romance dance film, Dirty Dancing, revolutionized the way dance meets movies - and it also didn't heart that heartthrob Patrick Swayze was starring in it. Just us?

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Although the film was set in New York, the movie was actually shot in North Carolina. The cult classic 1987 romance movie was filmed at Lake Lure (where the famous lift took place) and at the Mountain Lake Lodge in Virginia, where die-hard fans travel to the spot every year for vacation.

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New Hampshire: Jumanji

Another cult classic, Jumanji, takes many of us back to our childhood. The 1995 film was based on a children's book and later adapted into the movie we love today, starring Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, and Kirsten Dunst. The adventure movie was set in New Hampshire as the magical board game unveils the dangers within.

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Mostly set in the city of Keene, New Hampshire, the hit movie uses the city as a backdrop for the fictional town of Brantford, New Hampshire. After Robin Williams passed away in 2014, the city of Keene honored his legacy by repainting the town sign and creating a memorial for the beloved actor.

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Nevada: The Hangover

A hilarious trilogy following a group of guys who go on a road trip to Vegas and land in a series of misfortunate events, The Hangover was shot in Nevada. The hit comedy directed by Todd Philips isn't just any old bachelor weekend comedy - this one gets a lot more complicated, and it takes place in Las Vegas.

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What better destination for a bachelor party than Las Vegas? The iconic film captures scenes from Caesars Palace to Paris Las Vegas, the strip, the Wild Wild West Gambling Hall, and more. The boys also return to Vegas in the third movie after the second installment took place in Thailand!

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Mississippi: The Help

Based on Kathryn Stockett's novel, the drama film, The Help had some of the biggest names in Hollywood attached to it. With Octavia Spender, Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, and Bryce Dallas Howard, this movie was a shoo-in for being an incredibly moving story.

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The film was shot entirely in Mississippi and set in Jackson during the '60s. It follows an aspiring white writer who details the hardships of African American maids working for affluent white families in the south. The movie was shot in Greenwood and Jackson, where tourists often visit as popular sites on their trip down south.

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Massachusetts: The Fighter

Mark Wahlberg portrayed the welterweight champion, Micky Ward, in the biographical sports drama film, The Fighter. We watched him step into the ring and channel his inner fighter upon delivering this role, alongside Christian Bale, who played his boxer-turned-trainer brother. The two killed it on-screen together.

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The true story took place in Lowell, Massachusetts and all the principal photography took place in Ward's hometown of Lowell. The famous boxing matches took place at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell, and the gym scenes took place at Arthur Ramalho's West End Gym, a place where Ward once trained.

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Indiana: A League of Their Own

A League of Their Own, starring Geena Davis, Madonna, Tom Hanks, and Lori Petty, is a sports comedy that recounts the fictionalized events of a very real-life All-American Girl Professional Baseball League. The successful 1992 film was filmed in Indiana, home of the Hoosiers!

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The sports film was filmed in various locations over the Hoosier state. The Rockford Peaches' home games were shot at the League Stadium in Huntingburg, Indiana, and the championship game was filmed in the southern city of Evansville. To switch things up a bit, a few games were also filmed in Ontario, California.

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Oregon: Animal House

Another cult classic, Animal House, takes place at the fictional Faber College in Pennslyvania but actually was filmed at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon! Close, but not so close! The film marked campus staples like Johnson Hall, Main Street, and Central Campus.

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The film follows two freshmen who just got to college and are looking to join a top-tier house. But instead, they join the Delta House, a house that is on the verge of being kicked off campus due to all the noise they bring to campus. The film shows various shots of the frat life on Oregon's campus.

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Texas: Dazed and Confused

There's nothing like a young Matthew McConaughey! The coming of age story followed teenagers from a tiny town in Texas who were just looking to have a great time on the last day of school back in 1976. The movie is where McConaughey famously coined the term "alright, alright, alright."

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Dazed and Confused was filmed around Austin, Texas, as the boys spent the day "riding around, drinking and being cool," according to screenplay writer Linklater. Audiences can spot Bedichek Middle School, Top Notch Restaurant, West Enfield Park, and Toney Burger Center in Sunset Valley when watching the classic film.

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Minnesota: Fargo

The 1996 dark comedy, Fargo, stars William H. Macy, who hires a group of men to abduct his wife and steal the ransom money - but things go completely off plan when a Minnesota sheriff begins investing. The film takes place and was filmed in Minnesota and parts of North Dakota.

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Fargo was initially titled "Brainerd" after the small Minnesota city, but the name didn't stick! The film was shot during a cold Minneapolis winter in 1995, but due to a low amount of snowfall that winter, the production needed snow-covered landscapes and ended up filming in northern Minnesota and northeastern North Dakota.

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Idaho: Napoleon Dynamite

"Vote for Pedro:" a phrase that became ridiculously famous after the release of Napoleon Dynamite in 2004. The comedy takes place in Idaho, where Napoleon, a somewhat socially awkward teen, gets tangled up in a mess of family misfortunes while helping his friend, Pedro, win the class presidency.

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Most of the filming was done in different areas around Franklin County, Idaho, while primarily being filmed at Preston High School. The film brought such a following to the southern Idaho city that they used to hold a Napoleon Dynamite festival for tourists and fans to check out the landmarks themselves!

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