The Hunger Games
Katniss’ District 12 home from “The Hunger Games” really exists. It is located in Henry River Mill Village in North Carolina. Previously a ghost down with ramshackle remnants, the filming of “The Hunger Games” in 2011 has brought the mill town back to relevancy.
Sitting abandoned since 1970, the village, which is located about an hour east of Asheville, is now open to the public. At least one of the District 12 houses has been restored to its former glory. But one is gone altogether, lost during filming to an explosion scene.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The façade of the Upper East Side brownstone townhouse in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is actually in N.Y.C. Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly lived in the Manhattan location, although the filming inside the apartment took place in a West Coast studio.
The brownstone has two duplexes with a sweeping staircase and wood-burning fireplaces. The spacious interior is about 3,200 square feet. It has 10 rooms, including a gorgeous mahogany study.
Nights of Rodanthe
The inn featured in “Nights of Rodanthe” (2008) in the Hatteras Island village of Rodanthe is a real place.
It’s a travel accommodation located in North Carolina on the Outer Banks. In the movie, Richard Gere and Diane Lane star portraying the lovers in the story by novelist Nicholas Sparks.
Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet starred in the 2006 holiday film aptly titled “The Holiday.” There is an actual cottage in Surrey that is the inspiration for Iris’ (Winslet) idyllic winter residence.
Rosehill Cottage, Iris’ place, was built by the film crew out on a Surrey field in Shere near St. James church. The inside of the cottage, however, never existed; the interior was filmed in a studio. You can visit the Honeysuckle Cottage that inspired Rosehill Cottage. It is located in the village of Holmbury, St. Mary.
Steven Spielberg’s historic epic “The Schindler’s List” (1993) was primarily filmed in Krakow, Poland. He used the site of an actual slave prison from the Holocaust.
The rusting reminder of the Nazi occupation had to be refurbished for the momentous film project that recounted the darkest chapter in European history.
Full Metal Jacket
Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket” (1987) takes place in Vietnam during the war, but it was filmed far from there. This movie wasn’t filmed in the U.S. either.
Instead, Kubrick chose the U.K. Although the training exercises at the start of the movie take place in South Carolina in the movie, it was filmed in Cambridgeshire, between Cambridge and Letchworth. The war-torn images of the town of Hue in Vietnam were shot outside of London.
Adam Sandler’s custom putter in “Happy Gilmore” was not quite a putter, nor was it a hockey stick. It is not even legal on the green.
Yet, the company that made the putter props, Odyssey Golf, made 1,000 movie tie-in replicas. Sandler was absolutely set on the stick work. And it did. He had to take a shot in one of the scenes, but it took a few takes!
A Christmas Story
This property, portrayed as Ralphie’s house in the holiday-favorite movie “A Christmas Story,” is a real place you can visit. Many fans flock to The Christmas Story House near Cleveland, Ohio, year-round.
It is the actual house from the movie, and it is located at 3159 West 11th Street, Tremont. A museum featuring props, costumes, and movie memorabilia is located across the street.
The Ponderosa Ranch in Virginia City, Nevada, had long been an attraction for western shows like “Bonanza.”
Up until 2004, visitors could stop by this TV set ranch situated in Incline Village near Lake Tahoe. “Bonanza” was filmed at the Ponderosa Ranch from 1959 to 1973.
Sweethaven Village, also known as Popeye Village, was built into this bluff in Malta exclusively for “Popeye,” a 1980 film starring Robin Williams.
The film site was constructed in Anchor Bay, Mellieha, a Mediterranean island located off the coast of Sicily. The assemblage of quaint seaside houses is a popular tourist attraction. It is one of the only movie sets still standing in Europe.
Cult film “Session 9” was shot at the Danvers State Mental Hospital in Massachusetts. Most of it is still standing after a partial demolishing that took place five years after “Session 9” was made there.
The psychological horror movie filmed at the former Danvers State psychiatric hospital brought an extra sense of foreboding to the screen.
Sleepless in Seattle
The floating house featured in the 1993 rom-com “Sleepless in Seattle” with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan learning to write an email while falling in love really exists in Seattle.
The home is near Westlake Avenue in Lake Union. Last we heard, the quaint 2,200-square-foot houseboat sold for $2.5 million.
The Great Gatsby
The grand Long Island palace of Jay Gatsby used in the 2013 film version starring Leonardo DiCaprio is authentic. Located in the same fictional New York town of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s story, the towering 1928 Colonial stone mansion has 18 bedrooms and sits on 7.7 acres of beautifully maintained grounds.
It includes a private pier that accommodates a 200-foot yacht. Other extravagances include a two-story garage with hydraulic lifts, tennis courts, a pool with swim-up bars, a hair salon, a wine cellar and tasting room, a meandering river, and fantastic gardens.
The Harrisburg State Hospital was built as a mental hospital more than 150 years ago. When it first opened, it was called the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital.
The property was used as the filming location for Angelina Jolie’s “Girl, Interrupted” (1999). In 2006, the hospital closed, but the historic building remains.
Back to the Future
Michael J. Fox is Marty McFly in “Back to the Future.” McFly’s black 1985 Toyota SR5 did not survive the original to appear in the sequel.
The actual Toyota pickup used in the first picture ended up as a prize giveaway, and it was totaled by the owner. A replica of the famous truck was sold at auction for $80,000, a steep price for a used truck with 4,300 miles.
One of the most memorable scenes in “Gold Rush” is of Charlie Chaplin eating his boot at Thanksgiving dinner. Just like other prospectors driven by starvation, Chaplin boiled his boot and ate it.
He was left walking around wearing one boot. The prop wasn’t made of leather. The black boot was fashioned of black licorice. Unfortunately, it took 63 takes to film the scene, and the actors experienced a severe laxative effect. Also, Chaplin was hospitalized with insulin shock.
The Wizard of Oz
Dorothy’s magical slippers in “The Wizard of Oz” are so special it seems like only one pair could exist. However, quite a few pairs were made. This was necessary in order to keep the iconic slippers in pristine shape for each scene.
The ruby slippers are one of the most valuable pieces of film memorabilia. Five known pairs survive. One sits in the Smithsonian at the Pop Culture wing of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
“Wilson” was Chuck Noland’s friend in the 2000 survivalist drama “Castaway.” The volleyball, so named, washed up on shore in the movie and became the stranded character’s (played by Tom Hanks) sole companion.
The deserted island in “Castaway” was actually a strip of shoreline in the Gulf of California. Wilson serves as a sounding board for the film’s dialogue.
If you think this location looks like the planet Tatooine where Luke Skywalker came from, you would be correct. The desert landscape is actually located on Earth. It is found in the Matmata area of Tunisia.
The ancient settlement was used as a filming site in four of the “Star Wars” franchise movies. Now it is a travel destination for hardcore Star Wars fans who stay at the Hotel Sidi Driss, a 20-room accommodation that served as Luke Skywalker’s abode.
The Lake House
The fabulous lake house pictured on Maple Lake in “The Lake House” was constructed of glass and steel just for the movie. The project required 35 tons of steel, a 100-person crew, and only 10 weeks to complete it.
They built it on the dry lakeside and then dug out the shore to attain its lake top design. At the end of the shoot, the house was disassembled. Sandra Bullock, who starred in the movie with Keanu Reeves, expressed deep disappointment that they took it down.
The Last Song
“The Last Song,” starring Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, was filmed at the Tybee Island beach town in Georgia.
About 30 minutes away in Savannah is the fictional Will’s (Hemsworth) family’s plantation property, where his sister’s wedding was held. In real life, it is known as the Wormsloe Plantation. The official historic site was built in the 1740s by Georgia’s colonial founders.
The Aston Martin DB5, known as the James Bond car, is the priciest prop in Hollywood history. Sean Connery, the most iconic of the 007 secret agents, drove the distinctive British model in the 1964 movie “Goldfinger.”
Of the two examples remaining, one sold for $6.4 million in 2019. Aston Martin released a replica model of the DB5 for Bond fans in 2020. They hit the lot at $3.5 million each.
No Country for Old Men
The newspaper used in “No Country for Old Men” was printed by The Earl Hays Press. The California printing outlet produced the prop newspaper in the 1960s. The fake newspaper has been used in movies and TV shows ever since.
Using a prop paper avoids any unforeseen legal wrangling. The printed prop has also been used in “Married With Children,” “That 70s Show,” and “Modern Family.”
Michael Meyer’s “Halloween” mask is one of the terrifying movie props ever. The classic 1981 horror flick that turned into an 11-movie franchise features the serial slasher wearing a mask. He is, decidedly, not dressing up for a holiday.
The mask he actually uses, however, has an unexpected background. It is a replica of William Shatner’s (Star Trek) face from a 1975 horror movie. They picked up the Halloween mask for under two bucks and then painted it white.
When making “The Notebook,” filmmakers chose South Carolina as the location of the fictional Seabrook. In the book, the story takes place in North Carolina. made it look dilapidated
The property chosen for the movie is known as Martins Point Plantation. It is the house that Noah (Ryan Gosling) renovates. At the beginning of the movie, they
In real life, the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia once held Al “Scarface” Capone. Since 1971, the jail founded in 1829 has been out of commission and repurposed as a film set. Several movies have been made there.
Most recognizable on the big screen is the mental institution featured in “12 Monkeys” (1995) with Brad Pitt.
Another creepy replica prop is this bust of Gwyneth Paltrow’s head. Brad Pitt was so freaked out by it making the movie “Se7en” that he would not go near it. In that 1995 movie, Paltrow plays his girlfriend.
A killer sends her decapitated head in a box to Pitt’s character, a detective named David Mills. The Paltrow head prop was repurposed for the 2011 movie “Contagion.”
The Maltese Falcon
Quite possibly, the rarest piece of cinema memorabilia is the Maltese Falcon statue from the movie of the same name. In 2013, it sold for $4 million at auction. Dorothy’s ruby slippers pale in comparison at $2 million.
“The Maltese Falcon,” a 1941 film noir starring Humphrey Bogart and John Huston, is centered around a highly valuable raptor statue. It is the most significant movie prop ever. Life mimics art.
The most famous prop in “Citizen Kane” is owned by Steven Spielberg. He purchased the sled named Rosebud in 1982 for $60,500.
Multiple sleds were made. The final scene zooms in on the sled in the furnace with flames lapping around the brand, Rosebud. It took several tries to capture the sled burning around the words.
In Dillsboro, North Carolina, you can visit the set of “The Fugitive.”
An especially popular attraction is the wreckage from one of the movie’s most exciting scenes, the collision between a bus and a train. The movie remnant has been sitting there ever since; anyone can wander around and check it out.
When looking for a filming site for “Harry Potter,” J.K. Rowling requested that they use this home.
She said this property resembled the house she had in mind when she described the Dursley house at 4 Privet Drive. According to the author, this house reminded her of her Winterbourne, England childhood home.
Lord of the Rings
The coveted “One Ring” in the famous trilogy was, ironically, not one ring at all during the filming of the movie. In fact, there were at least 40 versions of the inscribed golden band.
These versions were needed for sizes. The largest was eight inches wide, practically kneehigh to a Hobbit! That one was used in the opening scene, spinning through the air as its dark significance is described.
The fictional town of Spectre abandoned town that Tim Burton brought to life in “Big Fish” is a real place you can visit. Jackson Lake Island is a privately owned property located in Elmore County in Alabama.
Burton filmed most of his whimsical movies in Alabama was the set which was custom built for the film. The site has been developed into a tourist stop with picnic grounds and a playground for children.
This San Diego mansion looming atop the cliffs of Pacific Beach was Marvel’s inspiration for Tony Stark’s sprawling state-of-the-art residence in “Iron Man.” Known as the Razor House, it spans 11,545 square feet with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.
In 2019, the extravagant complex near La Jolla was picked up by Alicia Keys for $20.8 million. Tony Stark’s mansion in “Iron Man” happens to be a CGI creation. The superhero’s home base sits virtually on the cliffs of Malibu.
A Christmas Story
The leg lamp appeared in one of the most memorable scenes in “A Christmas Story.” Jean Shepherd, “A Christmas Story” narrator and author of “In God, We Trust: All Others Pay Cash,” the autobiographical stories that inspired the film, said an advertisement for Nehi Soda inspired the lamp.
Since Ralphie’s mother smashes it, there are no leg lamps from the set remaining. Three were broken during the shoot.
The quaint little Seattle farmhouse residence that inspired the 2009 movie “Up” is still there, thanks to Edith Macefield, the stubborn owner who wouldn’t sell her home in 2006, even for $1 million, even as they built a new shopping center around it.
The story was animated by Disney, with the old man opting to have his entire home lifted, up, up, and away by balloons rather than be razed for development.
The Seven Year Itch
Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress image was captured while filming “The Seven Year Itch.” It took three hours and 14 takes to shoot it. The N.Y.C. scene was filmed at 1 a.m., but a crowd of up to 5,000 spectators still showed up.
Yet, it wasn’t quite right. The actual footage was re-shot at the Fox lot in the L.A. area. In the 1955 movie with Tom Ewell as Monroe’s date, the pair walk along a sidewalk above a subway. A passing train causes her skirt to flare up around the diva—that white cocktail dress sold in 2011 for $4.6 million.
The woodchipper in the Coen Brother’s 1996 cult classic “Fargo” has its own history. The black comedy murder weapon delivers an unforgettable scene that cannot be unseen.
The actual woodchipper, however, can be seen. It is on display in Fargo, North Dakota. Ironically, the movie was not filmed there because a warm winter didn’t produce enough snow.
“Edward Scissorhands” appears to be shot in a fantastical place, but it’s not where we’d expect. The 1990 movie with Johnny Depp and Winona Ryder was filmed in a plain old suburban community near Tampa Bay, Florida.
Tim Burton created the whimsical cinematic landscape out of a town called Lutz. The cookie-cutter-shaped neighborhood was just what he was looking for. All he needed to add were multi-colored houses and a dark castle at the end of the street. And yes! You can go visit the suburb.
Field of Dreams
The Field of Dreams baseball park was constructed by Universal Studios for the memorable 1989 Kevin Costner film “Field of Dreams.” It is located in the Dubuque County of Iowa near Dyersville. Now it is a tourist attraction for fans of baseball and movies.
Plans to hold Major League Baseball games at the Field of Dreams with the White Sox hosting regular-season matchups are in the works.
The Wonderboy bat brand was a prop designed just for the 1984 film starring Robert Redford. Hundreds of bats were made. Producers hired a boy to carve the brand name and a lightning bolt into the wooden prop.
The movie based on Bernard Malamud’s novel is about Roy Hobbs, who makes it to the big leagues using his Wonderboy bat. Replicas of the bat are on eBay, naturally.
The Blues Brothers
“The Blues Brothers” climactic chase scene finds John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd ripping through a 1970s-era mall in a converted cop car called the Bluesmobile. The action scene that destroyed over 100 cars was filmed in 1979 at an actual Chicago suburban mall in Illinois.
Director John Landis was able to rent the abandoned mall site, The Dixie Square Mall, for eight weeks. The destructive car chase in the 1980 comedy classic musical made it one of the most expensive comedy films ever.
The Big Lebowski
“The Big Lebowski” is the Coen Brothers’ second subculture film paragon. Nestled between “Fargo” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” the low-budget independent film was released in 1998.
Featuring the Dude, the story meanders from a Malibu beach party to the home of Jackie Treehorn, an adult filmmaker. His home is not really in Malibu but found in the Beverly Crest area of L.A. It’s a 1963 design by Frank Lloyd Wright protégé John Lautner, located in Benedict Canyon on Angelo View Drive.
Trail Dust Town
Not only can you visit Trail Dust Town in Tucson, Arizona, but you can also go shopping there. The site was built for a 1951 western movie starring Glenn Ford. The movie was filmed, but the project was abandoned.
Then, in 1960, the movie set ghost town was renovated into a shopping area with western attractions. It is located on Tanque Verde Road in Tucson, and you can partake in activities like panning for gold, square dancing, and going to the shooting gallery.
Pirates of the Caribbean
The “Pirates of the Caribbean” was filmed at tropical paradises all around the world. But, here, at St. Vincent Island near Jamaica’s Kingston Harbor, the first of Disney’s “Pirates” movie was shot.
The buildings that were used for the Rum-Rummers Isle scenes are still standing. It’s the scene from the movie where Jack was stranded with Elizabeth.
As one of the most memorable movies starring a child actor, the house in “Home Alone” is something moviegoers remember fondly. A six-bedroom Georgian-Colonial-style home is a real place in Winnetka, Illinois.
In the movie, Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) is an 8-year-old boy who gets left behind on a family vacation and must deal with a pair of bungling burglars. Less well known is that a majority of the interior scenes of the 1990 John Hughes Christmas classic were filmed inside a set in a high school gym.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
You can find this quaint German village built by Babelsberg Studio for “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” in Potsdam.
The Grimm’s Brothers folklore tale brought to film by Paramount had a sense of authenticity with the filming taking place in an old medieval forest near Berlin. Director Tommy Wirkola insisted the 2013 movie be shot deep in a European forest, just like the 200-year-old setting of the fairytale.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
The magnificent home in John Hughes’ 1986 “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is real, and it is in Highland Park, Illinois. The glass and steel architectural wonder was built in 1953 over a 30-foot-deep ravine.
The famous house is most remembered in the movie when Bueller’s buddy Cameron’s dad’s bright red 1961 Ferrari 250 GT crashes through a garage window.
This is a section of the set from the legendary M*A*S*H TV series, but it is not found in Korea. Instead, the location is local to Hollywood in the Malibu Creek State Park. 20th Century Fox owned the property and filmed there until 1983.
The existing M*A*S*H props, from the show that garnered 100 Emmy nominations in its 11 seasons, sat decaying for decades until the State Parks department restored the site for the public.
The Bates Motel featured in the television series “Bates Motel” in the fictional town of White Pine Bay, Oregon, is really found in Aldergrove, British Columbia. The replica was constructed on 272nd Street in five weeks. At the end of the series in 2017, however, the set was dismantled.
While the Canadian version of the iconic horror movie façade is no longer, Universal Studios in Hollywood houses the 1959 façade. Replicas also exist at Universal Studios Orland and another in Winnemucca, Nevada. This 2010 replica was erected for the 50-year anniversary of Alfred Hitchcock’s freaky tale.
Lord of the Rings
The land of the Hobbits is nestled into the hills of a family farm, but it’s not exactly where you would expect it to be. The movie set for the Hobbits is found down under in the Waikato region of New Zealand.
Director Peter Jackson saw the property and thought it was a perfect match for the Hobbiton from J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic. Originally, it was flimsily built for use in the movie. But now it’s a tourism destination. It was restored in 2010 as a permanent attraction.
The backstory to the hamburger telephone in “Juno” is remarkable. Tracking one down was the first challenge, but ultimately it had to be smuggled into the country. The prop was imperative to the script. Luckily, they found one on a Japanese website. But it shipped from China.
Vancouver customs confiscated the novelty phone because of China toy restrictions. From there, it was imported to Seattle. Then, someone had to drive it to the Vancouver film site. Quite a feat—but a hit with “Juno” fans. eBay reported the demand for hamburger phones shot up 759 percent after the 2007 release date.
Steven Spielberg went to great lengths to perfect the great white shark prop. The massive mechanical sharks were destroyed at a shark burning party afterward but getting one that was suitable for the 1975 film was difficult.
Three of them sank, and they lost another when its motor seized due to salt corrosion. One replica, a 25-footer named Bruce, has been restored. It is preserved at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and on its Facebook page.
The 2008 vampire fantasy film based on the book of the same name by Stephanie Meyer was filmed in the Pacific Northwest. Edward Cullen is a 108-year-old vampire who looks 17 and lives in this magnificent Portland home.
The house was already known as the Hoke house before it starred in the movie. John Hoke, a corporate designer at Nike, had the house built in 2007. He was honored to have it showcased in the blockbuster movie.
The Spy Who Loved Me
The Lotus Esprit, a working submarine car, was featured in the Bond movie, “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977). Elon Musk, enamored with the Lotus, bought one of the prop cars in 2013.
He paid about $997,000 at auction. His model could not convert to submarine mode, so he said he planned to update it with a Tesla powertrain and make it “transform for real.”
Tobey Maguire’s Spidey costume was pricier than a movie star’s red-carpet gown. Each example cost Columbia Pictures $50,000 to make. Four of the valuable suits were stolen, three from the set in Los Angeles and one from New York.
It took police 18 months to charge two men with the crime. (They could have used the help of the crime-fighter Spider-Man!) All four suits were recovered.
Yet another South Carolina property is the centerpiece of a Hollywood blockbuster. “Forrest Gump” was shot near Beaufort at the Frampton Plantation House for the 1994 film; however, the Tom Hanks classic takes place in Greenbow, Alabama.
Visitors to the South Carolina Beaufort area can take in a Forrest Gump guided tour to visit the places the Oscar-winning film portrayed.
This arch remnant of a fictional Spanish mission was constructed by a film company, though it is often mistaken for historical ruins.
It is found in the Cypress Gardens preserve of South Carolina and has become an attraction in itself. The gorgeous setting is featured in Mel Gibson’s 2000 film “The Patriot.” It was also used as a film set in “The Notebook.”
This lavish Beverly Hills mansion was depicted in “The Godfather” (1972) as the home of Jack Woltz, the unfortunate movie producer who crossed the Corleone family and woke up to his prize racehorse’s severed head in his bed.
The opulent palace was built in 1927 and owned by media titan William Randolph Hearst. It went back on the market in 2021, listing for $89 million, a sharp discount from its former asking price of $105 million.