Visiting the Greater Los Angeles Area without acknowledging the region’s vital ties to the movie industry is virtually impossible. It’s where Hollywood is, after all, and just about every major motion picture released in the last 100 years was shot and filmed partially or entirely in a Hollywood studio (along with numerous forgettable flicks as well). However, the cinematic significance of Los Angeles goes beyond the back lots of tinsel town and onto the streets themselves, for countless movies over the decades have been shot on location throughout LA.
In fact, it’s almost a guarantee everyone has at least one favourite film in which there is an iconic scene occurring on a corner, in a business, or near a landmark located somewhere within Los Angeles County and the surrounding region. With this in mind, even the most casual of movie fans may consider planning a trip to Southern California, among all the different activities, determined to visit the filming locations of favourite films.
Such stops can be sandwiched between other ways to trace the steps of the stars. For instance, why not visit West Hollywood, where according to their tourism board, the swankiest and most glamorous nightlife was located during the golden age of motion pictures? It’s safe to say nearly every famous actor and actress of the era spent time in the clubs and restaurants of WeHo, from Clark Gable and Carole Lombard to James Dean and Marilyn Monroe. The names of the establishments may have changed, but it remains a hotbed of celebrity sightings and culturally significant activity to this day.
Okay, so we’ve sold the idea of a trip to LA aimed at visiting the locations of famous movie scenes while also checking out what else the city offers. But we’re guessing most folks aren’t exactly sure which favourite films of theirs have been shot on location in LA and where, so here are 19 examples, categorised by genre:
Lethal Weapon, opening scene: Capitol Records Building, 1750 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028
Die Hard, virtually all scenes: Fox Plaza, 2121 Avenue of the Stars; Century City, Los Angeles, California
Point Break (1991), most beach and surfing scenes : Leo Carrillo State Park, 35000 W Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265
Speed, bus jumping scene: Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange
Heat, opening heist scene: Intersection of Venice Blvd & S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90015
Blazing Saddles, climax scenes: Warner Brothers Studios, 3400 W Riverside Dr, Burbank, CA 91522 (This isn’t cheating – the movie’s ending literally takes place on the studio backlot)
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, climax scenes: Warner Brothers Studios, 3400 W Riverside Dr, Burbank, CA 91522 (Again, the studio is featured in the film itself!)
Friday, virtually all scenes: W 126th Street, between Normandie and Halldale Avenues, Los Angeles, CA 90047
Pineapple Express, Ted’s house scenes: 1845 Niodrara Dr, Glendale, CA 91208
Chinatown: For this one, we offer an outsourced comprehensive guide to the filming locations of Chinatown, as there are too many good choices to offer only one.
Reservoir Dogs, the warehouse scenes: 5860 North Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, California, United States
Pulp Fiction: Once again, we feel it’s necessary for the provided list of Pulp Fiction filming locations to be comprehensive for fans, as there are simply too many excellent options.
L.A. Confidential, Stompanato and real Lana confrontation scene: Formosa Cafe, 7156 California Route 2, West Hollywood, CA 90046
Collateral, Vincent confronts muggers scene: Alley between 3200 and 3240 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
Drive, pawn shop robbery scene: Elks Lodge, 17766 Sierra Hwy, Canyon Country, CA 91351
Nightcrawler, Chinese restaurant scene: 252 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Blade Runner, J.F. Sebastian’s apartment scenes/climax: The Bradbury Building, 304 S Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
The Terminator, Kyle arrives and nightclub scenes: S Broadway & W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
Terminator 2: Judgement Day, truck jump and chase scene: Bull Creek beneath the intersection of Plummer and Hayvenhurst, Los Angeles, CA 91343
See a favourite movie listed? We hope so!
A final note: be careful when venturing out to explore LA for the first time or any unfamiliar city for that matter. Some neighbourhoods are safer than others. Consult a police officer, the hotel front desk, a seasoned cabby, and/or ride share drivers to get a sense of the danger level of a particular area before venturing there. It may be fun to visit the location of an iconic movie heist, but nobody wants to become a robbery victim in the process!