15 Places Movie Fans Must Visit Before They Die
Go out to the movies – literally – with our bucket list of the top film sets, museums, festivals, classic theaters, location tours and cinematic experiences around the world.
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Ghostbusters Firehouse; Hook & Ladder 8, New York City
If you've ever seen "Ghostbusters", it's hard not to smile when you see the iconic NYC Hook & Ladder 8 fire station. Built in 1903 as the first in a series of Beaux-Arts style firehouses in New York City, it reportedly was chosen for "Ghostbusters" because writer Dan Aykroyd knew the area and liked the building. Although it only served as the set for exterior scenes, it can also claim fame in the movie "Hitch" and an episode of "Seinfeld." Uber "Ghostbusters" fans can watch director Paul Feig’s 2016 take on the supernatural comedy and tackle the new 4,500 piece Lego “Ghostbusters Firehouse Headquarters” set.
The Making of Harry Potter; Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London
A cross between a museum, a movie set and a theme park, The Making of Harry Potter is authentic, detailed and immersive. Warner Bros. has kept and catalogued almost everything from the movies, from wizard wands to eccentric vehicles. It's a Halloween-costume heaven for Hogwarts fanatics. Coupled with a robust audio tour, any muggle will be able to feel like he or she is literally standing on set.
Lord of the Rings Tours, New Zealand
Let New Zealand’s "Lord of the Rings" specialists tour you around their beautiful landscapes and woodlands via one of the many customized experiences created to “cater to your Middle-earth hopes and expectations.” From full-day tours in remote locations (complete with lunch and costume items) to experiencing Queenstown from the air (touching down in hard-to-reach spots and flying over non-access territory), every Middle-earth explorer will assuredly find his or her own New Zealand paradise.
Walt Disney Family Museum; San Francisco, California
Walt Disney raised animation to an art, transforming the film industry and creating an American pop culture legacy. The Walt Disney Family Museum, in San Francisco’s Presidio district, brings to life his achievements and inspiring story. The 40,000-square-foot museum features early drawings and animation, movies, music, more than 200 video screens, a 14‐foot model of Disneyland and the 114-seat, "Fantasia"-inspired theater, which shows Disney classics six days a week. A special exhibition entitled "Wish Upon a Star: The Art of Pinocchio" is on view through January 2017.
Alamo Draft House; Austin, Texas
Devoted movie fans, Tim and Karrie League, opened the original Alamo Draft House on Colorado Street in Austin, Texas in 1997, as a single-screen theater in a nondescript parking garage. Within its first year, the venue played host to film premieres and visiting filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino, who hosted five-day marathon screenings of classic titles from his personal collection. The service model is deliberately low-tech – beer is delivered to your seat, after you scribble orders on actual paper. Although the original theater closed in 2007, there are now five Austin locations and 24 locations across the U.S. The 25th location (in Brooklyn) will open later this summer, and L.A. is slated for 2017.
Arlington Theatre; Santa Barbara, California
If you can’t watch a movie outside in the plaza of a colonial Spanish town, then the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara is the next best thing. Built in 1931 on the former site of the Arlington Hotel, which was destroyed following the 1925 earthquake, as a showcase movie house for Fox West Coast Theaters, it was restored and expanded in the mid-1970s. Its atmospheric interior contains faux-Spanish villas, a ceiling filled with twinkling stars, a Robert Morton pipe organ hidden from view and seating for 2,000 people. The original ceiling remains to give patrons the impression that they are sitting outdoors under the stars.
Angelika Film Center, New York City
The original Angelika Film Center & Cafe has epitomized the New York City independent movie scene since its opening in Manhattan’s SoHo district in 1989. Playing an impressive and diverse mix of independent films, it is the definitive cinema of choice for filmmakers and film lovers alike. Check out the film center’s blog for their own video and written interviews with directors and actors that are involved with the films they show.
The Academy Museum; Los Angeles, California
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is building the world's leading movie museum in the heart of Los Angeles. The Academy Museum – designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano and slated to open in 2018 – will restore and revitalize the historic 300,000 square-foot Wilshire May Company building, featuring six floors of exhibition space, a movie theater, educational areas, special event spaces, conservation areas, a cafe and store. The Academy has been acquiring and preserving movie-related materials since the 1930s and will draw on approximately 62,000 pieces of production art — such as a "Planet of the Apes" mask, a model horse head made for "The Godfather" and the ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" — as well as some 12 million photographs, 55,000 posters, 80,000 screenplays and more than 185,000 film and video elements.
New York City
An obvious choice indeed, but any respectable movie lover can’t claim fandom without visiting the Big Apple. Not sure where to start? This movie map of N.Y.C. film locations is a pretty handy guide of what’s what – and where. Or, search for your favorite flick On the Set of New York website. (News to us: Many of the scenes from West Side Story were actually filmed on the east side.)
Tribeca Film Festival, New York City
The Robert De Niro-sanctioned Tribeca Film Festival boasts several unique aspects at its annual April event: The director, cast and crew are often on hand for a Q&A after the screenings; the films, chosen from more than 6,000 submissions, are from every corner of the globe and “offer almost as many perspectives as New Yorkers have opinions;” and almost every film is a North American, international, or even world premiere, so attendees could be among the first to see the next big hit.
"Blues Brothers" Set Locations, Chicago
One of the greatest action-movie-musicals ever made, "Blues Brothers" showcases the real character of the city of Chicago, utilizing the city’s iconic and underground locales (not to mention immortalizing the jet black suit, fedora and wayfarer sunglasses look). So much so, it has become part of the city’s history. Fans can create their own tour of the Windy City through the lens of "Blues Brothers" diehards and journalists.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Movie buffs might be surprised at how many films have been shot in Vancouver. Dubbed “Hollywood North,” it claims "Twilight", "Fifty Shades of Grey", "X-Men: The Last Stand", "Elf", "Happy Gilmore", "Godzilla", "Juno", "Robocop", "Jumanji", "Legends of the Fall" and more as its own, due in large part to being a fairly hassle-free endeavor for producers and having the natural backdrops of beaches, mountains, forests and urban neighborhoods that can beautifully pose as American locations. Twilight fans can buy special books to use to just tour this cult-favorite’s locations – but rest assured these are not your average travel guides.
We’re fans of Paris for many reasons, but movie lovers will especially appreciate experiencing its many iconic movie sets in real life. Take a walking tour of the Montmartre district to see the famed carousel and Cafe des Deux featured in 2001’s "Amelie". Tour Paris through the eyes of Edith Piaf in the Belleville district and the Paris Olympia Concert Hall from 2007’s "La Vie En Rose", or retrace Robert Langdon's footsteps in Dan Brown’s "The Da Vinci Code" via professional guides who give detailed walking tours based on the movie, scene by scene and clue by clue.
Sundance Film Festival; Park City, Utah
Every January, Park City draws people from all over the country, and the buzz about new films, film producers and directors from this community dedicated to independent storytelling extends to Salt Lake City and beyond. The star-studded Sundance Film Festival boasts "Boyhood", "Little Miss Sunshine", "Reservoir Dogs" and "An Inconvenient Truth" among the titles introduced over the past 30 years since its beginning. From more than 12,000 submissions, only about 200 feature-length and short films are selected each year.
Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash Store; Red Bank, N.J.
The mecca for Kevin Smith fans, Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash is a historic comic store that’s featured in his AMC show "Comic Book Men." "Clerks", "Mallrats", and "Chasing Amy" lovers will also revel in the quirky characteristics that epitomize Smith. Not near New Jersey? Fans can use the tour the store feature online to get their Smith fix.