Secret Hollywood Blockbuster Filming Locations You Don’t Know About

By Amanda Williams,

When you think of big Hollywood blockbusters – those summer hits with lots of explosions, special effects, villains and maybe even superheroes that everyone goes to see – what cities come to mind?
Probably places like New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo and London: James Bond always ends up in London; aliens battled with superheroes in New York in The Avengers; the Autobots and Decepticons destroyed most of Los Angeles in Transformers; even Thor rode the London Underground. But did you know that many of these blockbusters were actually filmed far from the cities you’d expect? Producers have recently been taking advantage of film-related tax credits that make filming outside of Hollywood a lot more cost effective. Here are three cities that you probably didn’t know starred in some of your favorite recent blockbusters!


The Windy City


Filming locations in Chicago
Photo by Mike Boening Photography

Forget Renee Zellweger’s musical Chicago (that one was actually filmed in Toronto, much to the chagrin of the Mayor of Chicago). And move past Ferris Bueller – his “Day Off” was clearly set in the Windy City. But here are a handful of films that really used Chicago as a backdrop for other cities:

  •  Batman Begins – A memorable Tumbler chase took place down Wacker Drive.
  •  The Dark Knight – Director Christopher Nolan enjoyed filming Batman Begins in Chicago so much that he returned there for 13 weeks for the second of his Batman films. In this one, dozens of Chicago locations doubled as parts of Gotham City.
  •  Transformers: Dark of the Moon – The Transformers battled in downtown Chicago and the city actually stood in for the Ukraine in quite a few scenes.
  •  Man of Steel – Superman visited the Windy City, too, with Chicago standing in for Metropolis as Superman and General Zod do battle.

The Steel City


Pittsburgh Batman filming
Photo by Evan Leeson 

Unless you live in the Midwest, chances are you haven’t heard much about Pittsburgh. It’s an old steel-producing city that suffered a big decline when the steel industry collapsed in the 1980s. The city has enjoyed a revitalization though over the past couple of decades, and according to the Pittsburgh Film office, the city is now a hotspot for Hollywood filming – more than 120 movies have been filmed in Steel City since 1990.
Notable recent hits include:

  •  The Dark Knight Rises – Pittsburgh plays Gotham City alongside New York and Los Angeles. Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field was used in a memorable scene that includes the Pittsburgh Steelers playing the part of the Gotham Rogues football as Bane shows off his explosive power.
  • Perks of Being a Wallflower – This quirky film doesn’t hide the fact that it is filmed in Pittsburgh, since the book it’s based on was originally set there.

The Rock and Roll Capital of the World


Lastly, Cleveland has become another favorite filming city recently, especially when it comes to superhero-related blockbusters. This is due in large part to the incentives the city has offered to filmmakers over the past few years – even including the use of certain locations free of charge. Some recent smash hits to utilize Cleveland include:

  • Spider-Man 3 – The battle scene between Spider-Man and Sandman was shot in Cleveland.
  • The Avengers – The Battle of New York that was the climax of the first Avengers film? It was shot almost entirely in Cleveland.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – In the latest Captain America film, Cleveland doubled as Washington, D.C., for much of the movie.

Cleveland isn’t new to the movie scene though. Other big films with portions shot in this Ohio city include Happy Gilmore, Air Force One, and the holiday classic A Christmas Story.

What other cities do you think have starred in your favorite blockbusters?

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