family watching movies filmed in Los Angeles

Top 10 Movies Filmed in Los Angeles

If you’re a movie fan visiting or living in Los Angeles, you can have a fun — and affordable — day out driving around some of the places where your favorite movies filmed in Los Angeles were shot. Whether you’re planning to explore the famous locales on your own or you simply want to spot some familiar areas on the screen, you’re sure to get a kick out of these ten popular movies filmed in Los Angeles.

10. Legally Blonde (2001)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 70%

Directors often utilize clever camera trickery to make films appear as though they’re set elsewhere in the world — when, in reality, the cast never even left its main location. An excellent example of this technique is Legally Blonde, which was filmed almost entirely in Los Angeles despite being set at Harvard University, Massachusetts. Director Robert Luketic shot the Harvard Square scenes at All Saints Church in Pasadena, and the Harvard interior shots all took place in Rose City High School.

Viewers familiar with Beverly Hills may also recognize Il Cielo, the beautiful restaurant where Warner (Matthew Davis) breaks up with Elle (Reese Witherspoon) at the beginning of the film.

9. Grease (1978)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 75%

A quintessential feel-good movie, Grease was filmed exclusively in Los Angeles. The real-life exterior of Rydell High is Venice High School, although the inside wouldn’t be familiar to any fans of this musical — all of the interior shots are set in Huntington Park High School.

If you’ve ever danced along with the film’s catchy “You’re the One That I Want” closing number, you may recognize the athletic fields behind John Marshall High School in the Silverlake area. This was where the movie’s colorful, uplifting carnival finale scene was shot. Interestingly, this high school also appears in one of the darker movies filmed in LA: A Nightmare On Elm Street.

8. The Prestige (2006)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 75%

Appropriately, Christopher Nolan used a bit of movie magic while directing this illusion-heavy film. Although it is set in Victorian England, the camera crew never left Los Angeles. Instead, they made heavy use of some of LA’s most opulent theaters, hotels, and mansions.

To conjure images of London’s West End, Nolan filmed at:

  • The Tower Theatre
  • The Belasco
  • The Palace
  • The Los Angeles Theatre

One of the Most Popular Filming Spots in Los Angeles

If you thought the mansion featured throughout this movie seemed a little familiar, you have a good eye. It’s actually the Greystone Mansion, a Beverly Hills landmark that has appeared in dozens of films, from The Social Network to Ghostbusters.

7. Captain Marvel (2019)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 78%

Although it’s set all over the galaxy, this interstellar movie was filmed almost entirely in Los Angeles and the greater LA area. Notable locations include:

  • Valencia Street
  • Valley Plaza
  • The Jim Hall Racing Club
  • Gillibrand Quarry
  • The entire LA metro system

While the chase scene at the beginning of the film was genuinely shot on LA’s public transportation system, regular metro riders may feel a bit disoriented watching it. The exciting chase takes place across multiple metro lines, jumping erratically around the city with no regard for actual geography. Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) hops onto the green line at Los Angeles Metro Douglas Station, somehow shifts onto the blue line halfway through her ride, and eventually emerges at Metro Center Station in downtown LA.

Fans of Captain Marvel might also recognize the strip mall at West 6th and Valencia Street, where Carol dons her leather jacket and steals a motorcycle. If you want a glimpse of the fictional planet Torfa, then you just need to head slightly north of LA to Gillibrand Quarry.

6. Fight Club (1999)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79%

LA’s Millennium Biltmore Hotel makes an appearance in Fight Club, the gritty satire ostensibly set in Delaware. Director David Fincher filmed all over Los Angeles while making this movie. But he tended to avoid recognizable landmarks in favor of smaller locales like Launderland (now called Lavanderia Coin Laundry) and S&H Cleaners.

Spots that eagle-eyed watchers might recognize include the water feature at California Plaza, the modern art courtyard on South Flower Street, and the Alexandria Hotel.

5. Thelma and Louise (1991)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%

This iconic road movie claims to take place all across the Midwest, but director Ridley Scott actually filmed it almost entirely in the greater LA area. In fact, the only desert scenes outside Los Angeles were shot in Utah.

Scott managed to create this deceptively expansive landscape by bringing his cast and crew all around the outer edges of LA. To simulate the greenery of Arkansas, the camera crew filmed in the Gorman area north of Los Angeles. For the Oklahoma scenes, they moved into California’s central valley, focusing particularly on the Bakersfield area.

4. (500) Days of Summer (2009)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%

Scenes from this charming movie were filmed all over Los Angeles. A few places you might recognize:

  • The Canadian Building: The apartment where Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) lives.
  • The Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain: A gushing backdrop to
  • Tom’s dance scene at the Civic Center Mall.
  • The Redwood Bar & Grill: The karaoke bar where Summer (Zooey Deschanel) sings.

Fun Fact About Movies Filmed in Los Angeles

The Hotel Barclay, which has a prominent role in this film as Tom’s favorite coffee bar, appears as a set or backdrop in a number of different popular movies filmed in Los Angeles. You’ll be able to spot it in the opening scenes of Armageddon, as well as in the crime drama City of Lies. In fact, it even stands in as a Manhattan-based cafe in the Jack Nicholson film As Good As It Gets.

3. A Star Is Born (2018)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%

This gut-wrenching remake was all over the media in 2018 as Lady Gaga stepped into a serious acting role for the first time. Although the movie never notes exactly where it is set, it was largely filmed in various Los Angeles locales.

Protagonist Ally begins the film working at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown LA. After a long shift, she makes her way to the “Bleu Bleu” bar to moonlight as a singer. This cute little spot is actually The Virgil, an improv comedy club in East Hollywood.

Fun Fact

When they weren’t filming in LA’s bars and hotels, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were secretly performing musical numbers in between sets at real music festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach. The audiences you see in the concert scenes are genuine festival-goers, not extras.

2. La La Land (2016)

Griffith Observatory at sunset

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%

Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti absolutely adored La La Land, stating, “You can’t have a better tourism brochure than this movie.” Filmed all over Los Angeles, this Oscar darling paints a romantic picture of its home city.

From the Smoke House Restaurant to the Griffith Observatory, almost every shot in La La Land boasts iconic LA locales. Of course, the most relatable may be the 105/110 freeway overpass, which was shown displaying LA’s heavy traffic in the film’s opening scene. If your favorite part of watching movies filmed in Los Angeles is spotting places you know, then this movie is for you.

1. Back to the Future (1985)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

Although parts of this classic, immensely popular fantasy flick were shot on a Universal Studios set, much of it was filmed around the Los Angeles area. The mansion where Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) resides, for example, is actually the Gamble House. It is often open for tours, allowing hardcore film fans to see Doc Brown’s home for themselves.

The Hill Valley High School featured throughout the film is actually Whittier Union High School, although the movie’s climactic school dance didn’t take place there. Instead, that was filmed in the gym of Hollywood’s First United Methodist Church.

How Many Movies Filmed in Los Angeles Are There, Anyway?

The short answer is: a lot.

The streets, restaurants, and hotels of this city have been appearing in films ever since the Golden Age of Hollywood. This list just scratches the surface.

With its vast array of landscapes, beautiful hotels and bars, and opulent theaters, Los Angeles is rife with filming locations (and affordable storage spaces!). So keep your eye out next time you watch your favorite movies filmed in Los Angeles. You might just spot a few familiar places, whether you’re just visiting or getting to know your next potential home.

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