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15 Real Movie Locations You Can Actually Visit

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While many major films shoot on a closed sound stage, sometimes productions venture out into the real world to create movie magic. Here are 15 locations from famous films that you can actually visit.

1. The Firehouse from Ghostbusters

The Ghostbusters' New York City headquarters sits at 14 North Moore Street on the corner of Varick Street in TriBeCa. It's actually the home of Hook & Ladder Company #8, a fully working and operational New York Fire Department firehouse. Though the exterior of Ghostbusters HQ was in New York City, its interiors were filmed at another firehouse in Los Angeles, which is located at 225 E. 5th Street. Fire Station #23 was decommissioned in 1960 and the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission declared it a Historic Cultural Monument.

2. Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard

Die Hard's Nakatomi Plaza is located at 2121 Avenue of the Stars, which is actually Fox Plaza, the corporate headquarters for Twentieth Century Fox in Los Angeles, California. A majority of Die Hard was filmed there, despite the building being under construction at the time of shooting. Fox Plaza is also featured in Speed, Airheads, and Fight Club. All four movies were released by Twentieth Century Fox. 

3. The House from A Christmas Story

While A Christmas Story is based in Indiana, the exterior house shots were filmed on location in Cleveland, Ohio. The Parkers' home is located at 3159 W. 11th Street in the Tremont neighborhood. After purchasing the house, Brian Jones set about renovating the house—including the interior, which the production shot on a soundstage in Toronto—into an exact replica of the Parkers’ house in the film. It's open to the public and serves as a museum that is full of props and movie memorabilia. There's even an "official" Chinese food restaurant located a few blocks away from A Christmas Story House and Museum, but it's not the same location featured in the holiday film.  

4. OCP Headquarters from Robocop

Although the original RoboCop took place in Detroit, Michigan, future downtown Detroit was an amalgam of Pittsburgh and Dallas. In fact, OCP corporate headquarters was actually Dallas City Hall; the production used matte paintings to make the building appear taller. 

5. The Hotel from The Grand Budapest Hotel


The department store Görlitzer Warenhaus (de) was used for the atrium lobby of the titular Grand Budapest Hotel. The store was scheduled for demolition, but the production saved it. “The columns, the staircases, that really magnificent window and that huge chandelier, that was already there, that’s all original,” production designer Adam Stockhausen told The Hollywood Reporter. “We built everything else.” Currently, the department store is under renovation and will re-open in early 2016.

6. Yavin IV from Star Wars

The Massassi Outpost rebel base on the fourth moon of Yavin in the original Star Wars film was shot on location at the Mayan temple ruins in The Tikal National Park in Guatemala. Director George Lucas picked the location after he saw a poster at a travel agency while shooting in London, England.

7. The Tribute Training Center from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Marriott Marquis Hotel at 265 Peachtree Center Avenue NE in Atlanta, Georgia is where you'll find the posh Tributes' Quarters and Training Center from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The hotel was chosen for its gigantic atrium—at one time the largest in the world—and beautiful glass elevators. The Tributes' living quarters were filmed on the 10th floor and a set was built on the hotel's roof.

8. Subterranean Pool from 127 Hours

At the beginning of 127 Hours, Aron Ralston (James Franco) meets two hikers (Kate Mara and Amber Tamblyn); the trio dives into a subterranean pool with a 55-foot drop. The pool is actually a natural hot spring located at the Homestead Resort in Midway, Utah. But you can't recreate the scene: The resort won't let you dive into the hot spring like the actors did in the movie for safety reasons.

9. The Overlook Hotel from The Shining

While the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick's The Shining was an elaborate set on a sound stage at EMI Elstree Studios in England (the largest set ever built at the studio), the fictional hotel is based on two real hotels in the United States. The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, California was the inspiration for the interior of the Overlook, while Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon was used for its exterior and establishing shots.

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado was the original inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in the novel The Shining. Author Stephen King was disappointed that Kubrick didn't shoot at The Stanley, but the made-for-TV version of The Shining was filmed at the Colorado hotel in 1997 instead. The Stanley also appeared in Dumb and Dumber in 1994.   

10. Camp Towanda from Wet Hot American Summer


Wet Hot American Summer was shot at Camp Towanda, a sleepaway summer camp in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. Though the movie takes place during the summer, it was actually filmed during the spring before new campers arrived for the season. Unlike what the title suggests, it was actually very cold and rainy throughout the 28-day shoot. The producers told the owners that Wet Hot American Summer was a family comedy, so they could get clearance from Camp Towanda to shoot there. After the camp owner's watched it, they were appalled by the movie.

11. Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters from X-Men

Hatley Castle, located in British Columbia, Canada, was used as the exterior for Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in the X-Men movies. It first appeared in Generation X, a made-for-TV movie in 1996, but later it found its way into X-Men, X2: X-Men United, and X-Men: The Last Stand throughout the 2000s. Twentieth Century Fox also used Casa Loma in Toronto and Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, Ontario for exteriors, while movie sets on a soundstage in Los Angeles were used to shoot interiors.

12. The Baseball Diamond from Field of Dreams

Universal Studios built the field of Field of Dreams in Dubuque County, Iowa, near the city of Dyersville, straddling the land of two farmers. After filming completed in 1988, the field was left behind for the landowners: the Lansing family, who owned the house, the infield, and right field; and the Ameskamp family, who maintained left and center. At first, there were two driveways, two gift shops, and two parking lots, and equipment purchased from left field couldn’t be used on the right. But in 2007, the Ameskamps sold their part of the baseball diamond to the Lansings. Currently, Go the Distance Baseball, LLC owns the 193 acres where the film was shot; there are plans to develop a new $74 million complex called Baseball Heaven.

13. The Cherry Street Inn from Groundhog Day

While Groundhog Day takes place Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, it was almost entirely filmed in  Woodstock, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. The cozy bed and breakfast where Bill Murray's Phil Connors stays is Royal Victorian Manor, located at 344 Fremont Street. Woodstock also hosts an annual Groundhog Day, where fans can experience the movie with special events around the town—including a two-night stay at the Royal Victorian Manor.  

14. Top Notch from Dazed & Confused

Top Notch, located at 7525 Burnet Road in Austin, Texas, served as one of the teen hangouts in Dazed & Confused: It's where David Wooderson, played by Matthew McConaughey, first got the word out about the party at the Moontower (no longer a functioning site) at the film's climax. You can still grab a burger at the Top Notch today.

15. Hogwarts from Harry Potter

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter film series is actually a few locations around England: Christ Church College and Cathedral in Oxford was used for its 16th-century stone staircase, and the design of its dining hall inspired Hogwarts' Great Hall; Gloucester Cathedral was used for the school's hallways in the first two films; Lacock Abbey near Chippenham in Wiltshire was used for a number of Hogwarts’ classrooms; and Bodleian Library of Oxford University, Fourth Form Room of Harrow Old Schools in Greater London, and Alnwick Castle in Northumberland were all locations used to bring Hogwarts alive on the big screen.

A majority of Christ Church College and Durham Cathedral's architecture inspired the design of the numerous Hogwarts movie sets at Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire, England.  

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11 Single Facts About Bridget Jones’s Diary
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Miramax

While it's not officially a holiday movie, so much of the action in Bridget Jones's Diary happens around the most wonderful time of the year that the rom-com has become essential wintertime viewing for many movie fans. Based on Helen Fielding’s novel of the same name, it tells the story of a very single, and hopelessly romantic, working professional named Bridget (Renée Zellweger) who is determined to improve her love life. Enter two strapping gentlemen (Colin Firth and Hugh Grant) to vie for her heart. Get to know more about the timeless dramedy that’s been delighting audiences since 2001. Just as it is.

1. THE SOURCE NOVEL CAME ABOUT FROM AN ANONYMOUS COLUMN ABOUT SINGLE LIFE.

In the foreword of Bridget Jones’s Diary, author Helen Fielding wrote about how she came to conjure up the story: “The Independent asked me to write a column, as myself, about single life in London. Much as I needed the money, the idea of writing about myself in that way seemed hopelessly embarrassing and revealing. I offered to write an anonymous column instead, using an exaggerated, comic, fictional character. I assumed no one would read it, and it would be dropped after six weeks for being too silly.”

2. SEVERAL CHARACTERS ARE BASED ON PEOPLE IN HELEN FIELDING’S LIFE.


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These include Jude (Tracey MacLeod) and Shazzer (Sharon Maguire, also the film’s director). In a column for the Evening Standard, MacLeod described how she didn’t even realize she inspired part of her best friend’s story until Fielding’s book launch party. “At the launch party for the first Bridget book, I was cornered by a smug married friend, ‘So ... what's it like being Jude?’ she asked,” MacLeod writes. “I was outraged. Of course I wasn't Jude, with her self-help books and horrible boyfriend. My boyfriend wasn't anything like Vile Richard ... But as more people began to believe that Jude and Shazzer were thinly-veiled portraits of myself and Sharon, I secretly got to like the idea.”

3. TONI COLLETTE DECLINED THE LEAD, AND KATE WINSLET WAS CONSIDERED FOR IT.

Before Zellweger stole the show, Aussie Toni Collette and Brit Kate Winslet were up for the part. According to AMC, “Toni Collette declined the role because she was on Broadway starring in The Wild Party at the time, and Kate Winslet was considered but the producers decided she was too young.”

4. HUGH GRANT ONLY SIGNED ON WHEN RICHARD CURTIS WAS ANNOUNCED AS THE WRITER. 


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“The only reason [I was a hard sell] was because I didn't feel they had the script quite right for a long time,” Firth told Cinema.com. “And I kept saying, ‘It's not working. Just get Richard Curtis to come in and help rewrite it.’ Eventually they did, and as soon as Richard came on board, I signed on the dotted line. So that's all it was.”

5. RENÉE ZELLWEGER GAINED 17 POUNDS FOR THE PART.

Zellweger’s weight gain for the role had the media abuzz for a while. According to The Guardian, “In order to play the eponymous heroine in the film adaptation of Fielding's bestseller, the actress gained 17 pounds, consulting a dietitian and endocrinologist who devised a regime of three full meals a day, multiple snacks, and no exercise.”

6. ZELLWEGER WORKED AT PICADOR FOR THREE WEEKS.

Zellweger went full Method for her iconic role, and became a temporary employee of the Picador publishing house. “We came up with a plan: she would be Bridget Cavendish, Bridget for obvious reasons and Cavendish as she was to be passed off as the sister of Jonathan Cavendish, a friend of one of our company chairmen,” Picador publicist Camilla Elworthy told The Guardian. “That last bit at least is true, and no one was to know that Jonathan Cavendish was one of the film's producers.”

7. ZELLWEGER KEPT A PHOTO OF JIM CARREY ON HER DESK.


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While working at Picador, Zellweger kept a picture of Jim Carrey on her desk—which made her alter ego Bridget Cavendish seem like some sort of obsessed fan. “Under the name Bridget Cavendish, she answered phones, served coffee, and made photocopies—without being recognized by any of her co-workers, who offered career advice and wondered privately why she kept a photo of Jim Carrey (her then-boyfriend) on her desk,” noted Hollywood.com.

8. ZELLWEGER INVITED HER BOSS AT PICADOR TO BE AN EXTRA ON SET.

In Camilla Elworthy’s write-up for The Guardian, she noted how she became a part of the production. “Renée sent me a thank you letter and gift after she'd gone and I have seen her a few times since then," Elworthy wrote. "She invited me on to the film set one day. She informed me that I had to stick around and be an extra and made sure that I was put somewhere that I would be seen ... As a result, half my head can be seen for half a nano-second in the launch party scene.”

9. THE EPIC FIGHT SCENE BETWEEN GRANT AND COLIN FIRTH WASN’T CHOREOGRAPHED.

You can thank the two actors for the hilarity of the iconic scene. In a Vulture article about the greatest fight scenes in movie history, writer Denise Martin recalled the improvised spar, writing, “No stunt coordinators. No elaborate choreography. Just a perfectly realized wimp brawl between two upper-middle-class Englishmen coming to awkward fisticuffs in front of a Greek restaurant.”

10. FIELDING ASKED FRIEND SALMAN RUSHDIE TO CAMEO IN THE FILM.

Recalling how he came to be part of the film, famed novelist Salman Rushdie told Texas Monthly, “Helen Fielding, the author of the book, is an old pal of mine, and she asked if I’d come along and make a fool of myself, and I said, ‘Why not?’”

11. GRANT DIDN’T HEAR ZELLWEGER SPEAK IN HER AMERICAN ACCENT UNTIL THE FILM’S WRAP PARTY.

Zellweger was so engrossed with Bridget Jones that one of her leading love interests didn’t meet the real actress until the end of the shoot. “Not once did she stop speaking with that accent, until the wrap party,” Grant told Cinema.com, “when suddenly this weird ... Texan appeared. I wanted to call security, I didn't know who the f*ck she was!”

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15 Surprising Facts About Scarface
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Universal Home Video

Say hello to our little list. Here are a few facts to break out at your next screening of Scarface, Brian De Palma’s gangsters-and-cocaine classic, which arrived in theaters on this day in 1983.

1. IT WASN'T THE FIRST SCARFACE.

Brian De Palma's Scarface is a loose remake of the 1932 movie of the same name, which is also about the rise and fall of an American immigrant gangster. The producer of the 1983 version, Martin Bregman, saw the original on late night TV and thought the idea could be modernized—though it still pays respect to the original film. De Palma's flick is dedicated to the original film’s director, Howard Hawks, and screenwriter, Ben Hecht.

2. IT COULD HAVE BEEN A SIDNEY LUMET FILM.

At one point in the film's production, Sidney Lumet—the socially conscious director of such classics as Dog Day Afternoon and 12 Angry Men—was brought on as its director. "Sidney Lumet came up with the idea of what's happening today in Miami, and it inspired Bregman," Pacino told Empire Magazine. "He and Oliver Stone got together and produced a script that had a lot of energy and was very well written. Oliver Stone was writing about stuff that was touching on things that were going on in the world, he was in touch with that energy and that rage and that underbelly."

3. OLIVER STONE WASN'T INTERESTED IN WRITING THE SCRIPT, UNTIL LUMET GOT INVOLVED.


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Producer Bregman offered relative newcomer Oliver Stone a chance to overhaul the screenplay, but Stone—who was still reeling from the box office disappointment of his film, The Hand—wasn't interested. "I didn’t like the original movie that much," Stone told Creative Screenwriting. "It didn’t really hit me at all and I had no desire to make another Italian gangster picture because so many had been done so well, there would be no point to it. The origin of it, according to Marty Bregman, [was that] Al had seen the '30s version on television, he loved it and expressed to Marty as his long time mentor/partner that he’d like to do a role like that. So Marty presented it to me and I had no interest in doing a period piece."

But when Bregman contacted Stone again about the project later, his opinion changed. "Sidney Lumet had stepped into the deal," Stone said. "Sidney had a great idea to take the 1930s American prohibition gangster movie and make it into a modern immigrant gangster movie dealing with the same problems that we had then, that we’re prohibiting drugs instead of alcohol. There’s a prohibition against drugs that’s created the same criminal class as (prohibition of alcohol) created the Mafia. It was a remarkable idea."

4. UNFORTUNATELY, ACCORDING TO STONE, LUMET HATED HIS SCRIPT.

While the chance to work with Lumet was part of what lured Stone to the project, it was his script that ultimately led to the director's departure from the film. According to Stone: "Sidney Lumet hated my script. I don’t know if he’d say that in public himself, I sound like a petulant screenwriter saying that, I’d rather not say that word. Let me say that Sidney did not understand my script, whereas Bregman wanted to continue in that direction with Al."

5. STONE HAD FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE WITH THE SUBJECT MATTER.

In order to create the most accurate picture possible, Stone spent time in Florida and the Caribbean interviewing people on both sides of the law for research. "It got hairy," Stone admitted of the research process. "It gave me all this color. I wanted to do a sun-drenched, tropical Third World gangster, cigar, sexy Miami movie."

Unfortunately, while penning the screenplay, Stone was also dealing with his own cocaine habit, which gave him an insight into what the drug can do to users. Stone actually tried to kick his habit by leaving the country to complete the script so he could be far away from his access to the drug.

"I moved to Paris and got out of the cocaine world too because that was another problem for me," he said. "I was doing coke at the time, and I really regretted it. I got into a habit of it and I was an addictive personality. I did it, not to an extreme or to a place where I was as destructive as some people, but certainly to where I was going stale mentally. I moved out of L.A. with my wife at the time and moved back to France to try and get into another world and see the world differently. And I wrote the script totally f***ing cold sober."

6. BRIAN DE PALMA DIDN'T WANT TO AUDITION MICHELLE PFEIFFER.


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De Palma was hesitant to audition the relatively untested Pfeiffer because at the time she was best known for the box office bomb Grease 2. Glenn Close, Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Kelly McGillis, Sharon Stone and Sigourney Weaver were all considered for the role of Elvira, but Bregman pushed for Pfeiffer to audition and she got the part.

7. YES, THERE IS A LOT OF SWEARING.

According to the Family Media Guide, which monitors profanity, sexual content, and violence in movies, Scarface features 207 uses of the “F” word, which works out to about 1.21 F-bombs per minute. In 2014, Martin Scorsese more than doubled that with a record-setting 506 F-bombs thrown in The Wolf of Wall Street.

8. TONY MONTANA WAS NAMED FOR A FOOTBALL STAR.

Stone, who was a San Francisco 49ers fan, named the character of Tony Montana after Joe Montana, his favorite football player.

9. TONY IS ONLY REFERRED TO AS "SCARFACE" ONCE, AND IT'S IN SPANISH.

Hector, the Colombian gangster who threatens Tony with the chainsaw, refers to Tony as “cara cicatriz,” meaning “scar face” in Spanish.

That chainsaw scene, by the way, was based on a real incident. To research the movie, Stone embedded himself with Miami law enforcement and based the infamous chainsaw sequence on a gangland story he heard from the Miami-Dade County police.

10. VERY LITTLE OF THE FILM WAS ACTUALLY SHOT IN MIAMI.

The film was originally going to be shot entirely on location in Miami, but protests by the local Cuban-American community forced the movie to leave Miami two weeks into production. Besides footage from those two weeks, the rest of the movie was shot in Los Angeles, New York, and Santa Barbara.

11. ALL THAT "COCAINE" LED TO PROBLEMS WITH PACINO'S NASAL PASSAGES.

Though there has long been a myth that Pacino snorted real cocaine on camera for Scarface, the "cocaine" used in the movie was supposedly powdered milk (even if De Palma has never officially stated what the crew used as a drug stand-in). But just because it wasn't real doesn't mean that it didn't create problems for Pacino's nasal passages. "For years after, I have had things up in there," Pacino said in 2015. "I don't know what happened to my nose, but it's changed."

12. PACINO'S NOSE WASN'T HIS ONLY BODY PART TO SUFFER DAMAGE.

Still of Al Pacino as Tony Montana in 'Scarface' (1983)
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In the film's very bloody conclusion, Montana famously asks the assailants who've invaded his home to "say hello to my little friend," which happens to be a very large gun. That gun took a beating from all the blanks it had to fire, so much so that Pacino ended up burning his hand on its barrel. "My hand stuck to that sucker," he said. Ultimately, the actor—and his bandaged hands—had to sit out some of the action in the last few weeks of production.

13. STEVEN SPIELBERG DIRECTED A SINGLE SHOT.

De Palma and Spielberg had been friends since the two began making studio movies in the mid-1970s, and they made a habit of visiting each other’s sets. Spielberg was on hand for one of the days of shooting the Colombians’ initial attack on Tony Montana’s house at the end of the movie, so De Palma let Spielberg direct the low-angle shot where the attackers first enter the house.

14. SOME COOL TECHNOLOGY WENT INTO THE GUN MUZZLE FLASHES.

In order to heighten the severity of the gunfire, De Palma and the special effects coordinators created a mechanism to synchronize the gunfire with the open shutter on the movie camera to show the huge muzzle flash coming from the guns in the final shootout.

15. SADDAM HUSSEIN WAS A FAN OF THE FILM.

The trust fund the former Iraqi dictator set up to launder money was called “Montana Management,” a nod to the company Tony uses to launder money in the movie.

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