The films we watch have a way of staying with us. No matter how long it’s been since we’ve watched the story unfold before our very eyes, we still seem to remember the countless memories we have of those epic blockbusters or even those cult classics that won us over. From reel to reel, those motion pictures implanted themselves in our collective minds.
The stories told and the actors that portrayed the incredible characters we rooted for, or against, definitely had a large part in how we remember certain films, as do the incredible directors. But what else is it that we remember? The setting of course. Sometimes a movie is nothing without the backdrop—the setting in which the story takes place and the action, drama or hilarious situations occur. And there are indeed some iconic films remembered for their sets.
The stadium where the iconic chariot race in Ben Hur took place, the boat constructed for Titanic and how about the stadiums where the countless Rocky films had their iconic bouts of boxing?
And if you’re curious about such sets and what condition they’re in today, boy have we got a treat for you, dear readers. In this article we’ve got the locations of abandoned movie sets from some of your favorite films of the last few decades. Read on and see if your favorite Hollywood films and memories made the list, and see what became of some of those sets and if they’re still there at all.
25 PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN (2003) - WALLILABOU BAY, ST. VINCENT
It was in 2003 that the film was brought to the screen in grandiose fashion, racking in a bunch of money for Disney as well as the plethora of actors that were lucky enough to be in the film. It was directed by Gore Verbinski, no stranger to large blockbusters. It also brought to audiences, the portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow by the legendary and iconic Johnny Depp who brought the character to life expertly.
Sadly, it has been reported that the producers of the upcoming Pirates of The Caribbean feature have dropped Depp.
One of the locations of the second installment was none other than the shores of the beautiful island of Willilabou in the gorgeous St. Vincent, Port Royal, a place known to be a pirate's haven found in the northern shores of Jamaica.
24 STAR WARS / THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (1980) - TUNISIA / MOROCCO, NORTH AFRICA
Known as the desert of Tatooine in the script, the location was indeed perfect to showcase an extraterrestrial land in the hugely successful Star Wars films which have garnered the studio billions of dollars and rather comfortable careers for the stars as well. The reboots are doing quite nicely and there's a definite fan base that just won't give up on these characters despite the fact that others have called the franchise--especially its newer installments--a tad "too much".
The locations used for these scenes in the franchise lie in ruins, completely abandoned in the Moroccan and Tunisian desert should you want to visit a "galaxy far, far away".
Regardless of their sets, these films sure are considered gems in the cinematic annals of time.
23 THE HUNGER GAMES (2012) - CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA
The Hunger Games is an incredibly successful trilogy of novels, the first of which was released in 2008. It was written by Suzanne Collins and was turned into the very popular film franchise under the same name. It starred the incredibly talented Jennifer Lawrence and catapulted the young star to success.
The filmmakers didn't have to go very far to film some of the scenes of this film, as all of the Capitol scenes were filmed in beautiful Charlotte, North Carolina.
The setting was perfect to achieve the feelings established in the novel and it played out expertly on screen. Anyone interested can visit the set, but be prepared to be a little creeped out, as it is rather deserted.
22 TIM BURTON'S "BATMAN" (1989) - PINEWOOD STUDIOS, BUCKINGHAMSHIRE, ENGLAND
To say that the story of the DC hero known as Batman has been adapted for film many times would be putting it mildly. This character is about to start production on yet another reboot with a totally different actor playing the part of the caped crusader. To be honest, it may be too much for some people and we'd have to agree. It was hard to top the original Tim Burton feature from 1989, but it was done magnificently by Christopher Nolan in 2005 with Batman Begins, the talented and enigmatic Christian Bale playing the title role.
But it was in 1989 that cast and crew flocked to the UK to film the scenes said to take place in the fictional Gotham City and it was there that the world's toughest comic book neighborhood came to life.
Of course, now, the sets are abandoned but many have flocked there to snap a few pictures since it was deserted, but not many.
21 BLUES BROTHERS (1980) - HARVEY, ILLINOIS
The loss of actor and comedian John Belushi is still felt in Hollywood to this day. His conviction and dedication to his craft was pretty much irreplaceable and his iconic roles have gone down in history as the years have gone by. His performance in Animal House is still considered hilarious and his portrayal in Blues Brothers is pretty much the same.
The iconic scene in the mall was filmed at the former Dixie Mall in Harvey, Illinois.
Interestingly enough, the film was based on a sketch from Saturday Night Live written by Belushi himself and his co-star in the film and the sketches, Dan Aykroyd. It only took 2 years for the sketch to become popular enough for a film and well, the rest is history.
20 FULL METAL JACKET ( 1987) - BECKTON GAS WORKS, NEWHAM, EAST LONDON
It was thirty-one years ago that the cinematic genius that was Stanley Kubrick brought the war film that would end the debate as to which was the most iconic war film of all time. At least for many, that was. Full Metal Jacket put a very expressive exclamation mark on the Vietnam War and as opposed to many Vietnam films of the era or before, Kubrick decided to showcase a very different backdrop.
No longer was the viewer shown the jungles of Vietnam, but rather the toppled cities.
Who can forget the 1st portion of the film, depicting a very arduous and psychologically disturbing training camp sequence, immortalizing actor Vincent D'Onofrio? Sequences for the film were shot in England, specifically Norfolk Broads, Newham, The Isle of Dogs and the Bassingbourn Barracks. Many of which are now abandoned.
19 INTO THE WILD (2007) - THE MAGIC BUS / HEALY, ALASKA
The book chronicled the life and adventures of Christopher McCandless, who set off on a trek and discovery of himself after graduating college. The film was adapted from the novel and directed by the incomparable Sean Penn, and beautifully acted by a cast of performers including Emile Hirsch and Kristen Stewart and others. It features an incredible soundtrack by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder and the film is perfection on film, really and features some of the most beautiful landscapes ever caught on film.
Penn filmed most of the film at the authentic locations, including the famous Magic Bus location in which the real McCandless actually perished in the wilderness.
Should you want to visit the site of the bus, it's located at Stampede Trail, Healy, AK 99743, USA.
18 IRON MAN (2008) - BLUE CLOUD MOVIE RANCH, CALIFORNIA
Before there were the Avengers, there was Iron Man. And no, I'm not speaking specifically about the team themselves, but I'm referencing the films. For years, the comic book films, as it were, suffered greatly. Many attempts at creating a good and successful franchise fell short except for a few, like the aforementioned Batman Begins.
But when audiences were introduced to the arrogant but hilariously charismatic Tony Stark, the winds changed and a massive multi-billion dollar franchise was born.
The first installment of the film made a lot of money, and the iconic scene in which Tony Stark is nursed back to health and where the Iron Man suit is conceived, now lies abandoned and deserted at the Blue Cloud Movie Ranch, California.
17 HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS ( 2013) - AUGSBURG, GERMANY
The film was based on the classic German Folk fairy tale of the same name (drop the witch hunter portion, though), which has been adapted many times over the years. Classic folklore indeed as it deals with witches, dark magic, horrific themes and the like. Nothing is better to get you in the mood for a creepy night of story-telling than a classic piece of a story passed down from generation to generation.
This film version starred Jeremy Renner, Peter Stormare, Famke Janssen, Gemma Arterton. It was shot near Berlin in a town named Augsburg and surprise, surprise, it now is deserted.
16 FIRST BLOOD (1982) - HOPE, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA
It was in 1972 that the novel, of the same name, was released. It was written by David Morrell, and it remains his most iconic work to date. The book was adapted by Sylvester Stallone into a feature film and was released as such in 1982. It was the launch of the incredibly successful Rambo franchise and the first installment of the successful series remains an iconic piece of cinematic history.
The film was shot primarily in British Columbia, Canada, and the iconic scene on "the bridge" where the whole mess begins for John Rambo, the returning Vietnam war veteran was located in Hope, BC.
Unfortunately, any ideas you may have to visit the bridge will have to be cancelled, as the bridge was torn down and remains but a cinematic ghost in the reels of the film alone.
15 MAMA (2013) - QUEBEC, CANADA
Well, as far as horror film locations go, we'd have to say that this particular location is and was perfect for this film. An incredibly scary telling of what can happen when an evil spirit decides to cling to its children, even after the afterlife comes calling. The film stars the astounding and talented Jessica Chastain and it had audiences screaming well into the night.
The haunted house used in the film is located somewhere near Quebec City, Quebec.
It looks like it could be the set of another horror film, should Hollywood need another (as we're sure they do), as it's rather abandoned and looks like it could have a few ghosts lurking in the dark corners.
14 THE PATRIOT (2000) - CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
This film starring none other than Mel Gibson himself was the grand return of the actor to the historic wartime storyboard. And since Braveheart, audiences were awaiting his return to the genre. The film didn't disappoint, bringing audiences epic performances by Gibson himself as well as the late, great Heath Ledger.
After filming wrapped, so did any and all care of the site. You can still visit it though.
This film was entirely shot in South Carolina, bringing authenticity to the script, which was as historically accurate as a history class textbook. The scenes that unfolded took place in other popular locations like Rock Hill, Fort Lawn and the ruins of the old Spanish Mission located in Cypress Gardens (pictured above).
13 THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977) - SOUSS-MASSA-DRAA, MOROCCO
The seventies probably brought a lot of authentically scary horror films that pushed the boundaries of what the world was used to by then. Tired of Hitchcock's vision, the horror fans of the era wanted more, much more. And, boy, did they get it with films such as the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Legend of Hell House and of course, The Hills Have Eyes.
This tale was filmed in Morrocco, of all places.
The director of the film, Alexandre Aja, actually commissioned a whole set to be built there and it was christened "Gas Haven," the creepy but quaint setting of the classic film.
12 THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966) - BURGOS, SPAIN / SAD HILL CEMETERY
Fewer films enjoy such an iconic tenure as this one did. Probably the quintessential "spaghetti western," The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was Sergio Leone's masterpiece that sprung forth many more films in the genre. The setting may seem today as a run of the mill western set, but back then boundaries were broken and the sets were indeed fresh and disturbing to viewers, especially the Sad Hill Cemetery Location, in which the final scene is shot.
In the following years, many films would choose to shoot in Spain, seeing how well production went for this picture, but nowadays the set is, in fact, deserted, but it can still be visited.
11 SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993) - KRAKOW, POLAND
Steven Spielberg's haunting telling of this dark event wowed audiences all over the world. The touching story unfolded in front of the eyes of audiences, spellbound by the story and performances that still haven't been forgotten today, as is totally understandable. The film remains one of the greatest in the filmography of the famed director of such classics as Jaws and ET.
The same cannot be said for the location of the Płaszów Labor Camp, located in Krakow, Poland, where so many of the iconic scenes were shot.
The site remains abandoned and forlorn except for a few tourists who want to marvel at the set.
10 LORD OF THE RINGS ( 2001-2003) - MATAMATA, NEW ZEALAND
The long anticipated adaptation of the great novel by J.R.R Tolkien finally came to theaters in December of 2001. For many, it seems like just yesterday that they watched Frodo and his cast of zany characters in an adventure for the ages. An all-star cast was set to headline and were all shipped to New Zealand for the long and arduous shoot. The cast, which included Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, as well as others have been noted as saying that the experience was bonding as well as arduous.
The location of "The Shire," the town where Frodo and his fellow Hobbits spent their days and called home was shot in Matamata, but now lays deserted in the hills. Many have flocked to gaze upon the landscape however.
9 THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST (2004) - ROME, ITALY
It was in 2004 that Mel Gibson wrote and brought the film based on the Christian Bible. More specifically it focused on the Gospels and the story of Jesus Christ, whose teachings were featured in full detail. This time out, however, Gibson decided to concentrate specifically on the persecution of Jesus rather than his life. The film starred Jim Caviezel and was met with huge amounts of opposition and controversy, but regardless it indeed made a lot of money.
Interestingly enough, the location was quite authentic, as it was shot in Rome where Cleopatra was shot back in the day. After the fall of the Roman film scene, these lots were left in abandonment. After the filming of The Passion, the same happened once again. The site can still be visited.
8 LONE STAR (1996) - CONTRABANDO, TEXAS
Considered a modern age western film, Lone Star wasn't exactly a successful film, but it has definitely passed to cult film status and is respected by many as a gritty but honest view of the law in a small Texas Town and what happens when that legal representation is pushed in all directions.
The film starred Chris Cooper, Matthew McConaughey, Kris Kristofferson. Filming was principally done in Contrabando, Texas and the site where it was shot is still up but looks more like the site of a ghost town rather than an old film set.
7 POPEYE (1980) - MELLIEHA, MALTA
South of the Italian Island of Sicily, Malta is nestled quite beautifully in the Mediterranean Sea. It was on this Island that Robin Williams would set out to film Popeye, in which he would portray the title character, Popeye The Sailor Man.
The film was released over three decades ago, but it would launch the incredible career that Williams would enjoy over the next thirty or so years.
The set has been left behind, despite the fact that it still looks like a beautiful haven worthy of any tourist looking for a getaway somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea.
6 BIG FISH (2003) - WETUMPKA / MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA
It was in 2003 that Tim Burton brought Daniel Wallace's novel of the same name to the screen as only Tim Burton knew how. He is famous for finding humor in the dark and depressing places of the world and he did so here, beautifully, with an all-star cast that included Ewan McGregor of Trainspotting fame.
The fictional town of Spectre was built on the set of the film, located in Alabama, yet today the site is rather deserted but many flock to Alabama in search of the town where time sort of gets away from you. A place where you don't need any shoes and nothing but peace surrounds you, where you can forget all that ails you.