When we watch a movie, either for the first time, or for the millionth because we liked it so much, our eyes are drawn to not just the characters and story but also the backgrounds. After all, the movie’s setting sets the tone in terms of whether it’s grounded in reality or not. In fact, some locations become so engrossing that we find ourselves wishing to visit the places featured in certain movies. This includes New Zealand, where the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films were shot, despite taking place in a fictional world, and Casablanca, Morocco where the titular film seemingly took place.
However, there is a certain underlying truth that movies can deceive one’s perception of reality. So just because a film seemingly takes place in a certain location doesn’t necessarily mean it was filmed there. More often than not, filmmakers will either choose places that are close to the real thing or film it all in a studio in Los Angeles in order to cut down on costs. Then there are cases where they wanted to film at a certain place, but were unable to acquire the rights to go there. With that said, here are several movie locations that don’t take place where they claim to be and some that managed to take place on location!
25 Totally Wrong: Titanic - Never Left Dry Land
Though it is over 20 years old, the film Titanic is still considered to be one of most memorable films. The movie starred a young Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.
An expensive film to make, it paid off big time by becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time, only to be surpassed by Avatar, which was made ten years later by the same director James Cameron.
But while one may assume the movie was filmed on a boat, it was actually shot at a studio in Rosarito, Mexico where a full-scale replica was painstakingly made both interior and exterior-wise.
24 Totally Wrong: Casablanca - Here’s to Not Being in Africa, Kid!
Considered to be one of the most iconic films in history, despite being over 70 years old, it tells the tale of a man from America who runs a popular club in Casablanca, Morocco. He gets involved with helping an old flame named Ilsa and her husband escape to America prior to the Second World War.
While many viewers were entranced by the exotic location featured in this film, it was all shot at the Warner Bros. Studios in California.
However, it is rumored that some scenes were filmed at the Hotel Monte Vista in Flagstaff, Arizona according to Listverse, again, nowhere near the real Casablanca.
23 Nailed It: The Blues Brothers - Put Chicago on the Map
Since it first aired, Saturday Night Live (or SNL) has produced many successful actors. These actors went on to do better things after their run on the show, and a string of movies based on popular sketches they did.
To this day, the most famous of these was The Blues Brothers starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi as a two-man blues band trying to save the orphanage they grew up in while being pursued by the cops.
The film made the city of Chicago famous which not only served as the film’s setting, but it was also filmed there.
22 Nailed It: Rocky - Tiny Bit of Philly
While Creed has certainly breathed new life into this 40 year-old franchise, there will always be only one Rocky. Made in 1976, this film not only served as Sylvester Stallone’s breakthrough film, but also it went on to become an iconic sports movie that inspired many others.
The film also became synonymous with Philadelphia, where the majority of the film takes place, despite actually being filmed in Los Angeles.
But they did shoot the famous scene where Rocky ascends the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art on location, and now a bronze statue of the famous character stands there.
21 Totally Wrong: The Amityville Horror (1979) - Anywhere but Amityville
Apart from The Exorcist and Halloween, the other popular horror movie franchise that came out of the 70s was The Amityville Horror, which was based on a fictionalized account of a family that moved to a haunted house in Amityville, Long Island, New York where they experienced many bizarre and horrific things.
However, the filmmakers couldn’t acquire the rights to film at the actual Amityville House where these events supposedly took place.
Instead, they picked a spot in the Toms River area of New Jersey to shoot the film which in turn inspired a bunch of sequels and a remake.
20 Nailed It: 127 Hours - Actually Takes Place in Utah
In the trend of biographical films starring famous actors, 127 Hours is actually quite exceptional. Starring James Franco, who plays a hiker named Aron Ralston who was trapped in a canyon in Utah for a week, the film was shot in several locations around the Beehive State.
This even includes an underground pool, which is actually a natural hot spring located in the city of Midway at the Homestead Resort, where Franco’s character meets up with two other hikers early on in the movie. It was nominated for many Academy Awards and Golden Globes though it didn’t win any of them.
19 Totally Wrong: Dallas Buyers Club - Not in Texas
Starring Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, this well-received documentary drama earned them both Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively. Set in the 1980s, the film tells the real-life story of a man who smuggled illegal medicine to treat his illness and others. It also has the bonus of being set in Texas, where McConaughey is originally from.
However, the movie was actually filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana and nowhere near Dallas, Texas despite the title’s implication.
For this reason, McConaughey wasn’t entirely happy with the film since he enjoys working on Texas-based films.
18 Nailed It: Ghostbusters (1984) - A True HQ!
With another remake in the works, the Ghostbusters franchise has proven to still be lucrative due to its nostalgic value among those who saw the original 1984 version. Starring many notable actors, this horror-comedy took the world by storm leading to two cartoon series, several video games, and a successful line of merchandise.
But what’s even cooler is that the firehouse where the Ghostbusters live is a real place in New York City. Known as Hook & Ladder Company #8, it was filmed from the outside for the movie while the interior was shot at a different firehouse in LA.
17 Totally Wrong: Platoon - Not a Vietnamese Jungle
Made in 1986, this anti-war film won Best Picture at the Academy Awards that same year along with two others. Set during the Vietnam War, the movie focuses on a group of soldiers played by several famous actors, including Charlie Sheen and Willem Dafoe.
It was also directed by Oliver Stone, who went on to direct two similar films titled Born on the Fourth of July as well as Heaven & Earth creating a trilogy of sorts. But despite taking place in Vietnam, the film was actually shot in the Philippines whose lush green jungles look similar to those in Vietnam.
16 Totally Wrong: RoboCop (1987) - Nowhere Near Detroit
Set in a dystopian version of Detroit, Michigan, RoboCop and its sequels tell the story of an ordinary cop that transformed into a powerful cyborg following an accident that turns out to be part of a conspiracy by a corrupt businessman.
However, the film wasn’t shot anywhere in Detroit, or the state of Michigan for that matter. Instead, it was filmed in the states of Pennsylvania and Texas, in particular the cities of Pittsburgh and Dallas according to Mental Floss. In fact, the headquarters for the OCP corporation, who were responsible for creating RoboCop, is actually in Dallas City Hall.
15 Totally Wrong: Scarface - Those Are LA Palms, Not Miami Ones
Starring Al Pacino, who was fresh off his fame with The Godfather trilogy, Scarface is the story of one man named Tony Montana who is a Cuban refugee that goes from rags-to-riches using any means necessary, including criminal acts.
While the film supposedly takes place in Miami, Florida, it was actually filmed in parts of Los Angeles, California. This even includes the famous mansion El Paraiso, where Tony resides. Also, while the film was initially criticized for its high levels of violence, it has since become a cult classic for many movie buffs and critics alike.
14 Totally Wrong: A Christmas Story - A Tourist Trap
What started as a cult film that quickly grew into a monster hit, A Christmas Story is the story of an older man reflecting on his childhood. But unlike most Christmas classics, such as It’s a Wonderful Life, this one doesn’t sugarcoat the bad stuff surrounding the main character Ralphie Parker’s family, which creates a more realistic character and reliable narrator.
Though the events in A Christmas Story take place in Indiana, it was actually filmed at a house in Cleveland, Ohio which has now been turned into an exact replica of the Parkers’ home that people can visit.
13 Totally Wrong: The Shining - Not Where Stephen King Wanted It
While The Shining is regarded as one of Stephen King’s best horror novels, it was also adapted into a visually intimidating movie directed by Stanley Kubrick. However, King didn’t particularly like Kubrick’s take on his work for a number of reasons.
Among these, he was disappointed that Kubrick didn’t film scenes of the fictional Overlook Hotel where Jack Torrance and his family stay at the real-life Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Instead, Kubrick did exterior shots for the hotel at the Timberline Lodge in Oregon at Mount Hood.
12 Totally Wrong: Groundhog Day - Deja Vu in Woodstock
Though Groundhog Day is a traditional holiday that focuses on the superstition of a groundhog (also known as a woodchuck) seeing its own shadow to determine the arrival of an early spring season.
It wasn’t until this 80s comedy came along that the term 'Groundhog Day' became synonymous with a story involving an infinitely repeating time-loop. Set in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the movie revolves around this very scenario. But the film was actually shot in Woodstock, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, because the filmmakers didn't think the actual town the movie takes place in looked good on camera.
11 Totally Wrong: Robin Hood (1991) - Filmed in France
Of the various film adaptations of the classic British tale Robin Hood, the 1991 version, known by its subtitle Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner in the titular role and Morgan Freeman as his companion, Azeem, is still regarded as one of the better interpretations, apart from the Errol Flynn version in 1938.
While parts of the film were shot in England, such as the Sycamore Gap at Hadrian’s Wall, according to Penny Walker’s article in The Telegraph, the rest of the shooting took place in France at the Cité de Carcassonne, a place that was used to depict Nottingham.
10 Totally Wrong: Saving Private Ryan - D-Day on Irish Soil
One of Spielberg’s most critically acclaimed movies, Saving Private Ryan depicts the Invasion of Normandy in World War II with Tom Hanks starring as the leader of a small unit sent to find the titular paratrooper (played by Matt Damon) who is the last surviving member of his servicemen unit.
While the movie takes place in Normandy, which is a region that lies on the coast of France, the film was actually shot in Ireland.
In particular, Ballinesker Beach at Curracloe Strand in the County of Wexford served as the location where the film’s intense first 20 minutes took place.
9 Totally Wrong: Chicago - Cabarets in Canada, Eh?
With a title like Chicago, one would think that this popular Broadway musical-turned-Academy Award-winning film would’ve been shot in the Windy City, where Jazz and Gangsters were the norm in the 1920s and 30s, which is when the musical/movie takes place.
But in actuality, the film was shot further north in Toronto, Canada.
Telling the story of two women who are trying to get out of jail by getting the Press’ attention, Chicago is considered to be partially responsible for renewed interest in musicals in recent years, alongside Moulin Rouge which came out one year prior.
8 Totally Wrong: Cloverfield - No Rampage Through NYC
Though The Blair Witch Project is often credited as the movie that made the “Found Footage” genre of movies popular, there is one other film that is also responsible for making this trend big.
Enter Cloverfield, a monster movie disguised as a found-footage flick, where a party between friends is interrupted by a sudden menace that attacks New York City. While this film, once again, leaves the Big Apple at the mercy of another giant monster, it was actually shot in Los Angeles.
7 Totally Wrong: The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wake Up and Smell the Bratwurst!
Written and directed by Wes Anderson, one of the most popular up-and-coming directors in recent history, this vividly colorful film not only has an incredible group of actors but it also received a lot of Academy Awards.
While the film takes place at the titular hotel in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka, the whole movie was primarily filmed in Germany.
In particular, the hotel lobby was depicted by an old department store called Görlitzer Warenhaus in the town of Görlitz, which was going to get demolished until Anderson’s film saved it, leading to its renovation and renewed popularity.
6 Nailed It: Braveheart - Kilts and Clovers
Remembered for its epic battle scenes and memorable lines, Braveheart is the fictionalized retelling of how Scotland fought for its independence during the Middle Ages when England threatened to take it over completely.
Starring Mel Gibson as William Wallace, who led the Scottish armies during the main war, this film won lots of Academy Awards in 1996, the year after it was released. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that while some of the scenes were shot in Scotland, the rest of the film was shot in Ireland due to tax breaks the country offered.