Film destinations of 2011
Movies are a way to travel around the world without ever leaving the theater or your pay-per-view seat at home.
This year's movies have some interesting filming locations: Cambodia; Wales; Oahu, Hawaii; Santa Fe, N.M.; the Getty Museum in Los Angeles; Switzerland; and Sweden. Movies that range from blockbusters like "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" to smaller, Oscar-buzz films like the unreleased "On the Road" take moviegoers to new places.
Though there is no award for best film location, the road for some of the films will end on the stage of the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood in March when Eddie Murphy hosts the 84th Academy Awards.
Clooney goes Hawaiian
"The Descendants" is an Oscar-buzz film starring George Clooney that aims for a Nov. 23 release. It is directed by Alexander Payne and based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Clooney plays a wealthy landowner who is forced to reconnect with his daughters after their mother goes into a coma. "The Descendants" was filmed in Hawaii, where the story takes place. Honolulu and Kauai are two main locations.
The highly anticipated American version of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," directed by David Fincher, is slated for a Dec. 21 release. The film stars Daniel Craig as a Swedish journalist and Rooney Mara as a computer hacker. The two work to crack the case of a murdered Swedish girl.
The movie used locations throughout Uppsala and Stockholm, Sweden, including Sollefteå, Stockholm, which represents the fictional Hedestad Train Station. Oslo, Norway and Zurich were also featured.
"On the Road," a drama based on the book by Jack Kerouac, will come out sometime in December. The film is directed by Walter Salles, produced by Francis Ford Coppola, and stars Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart. The story is based on a young Kerouac's travels throughout America with his friends in the '40s.
Filming began in Montreal and Gatineau, Québec, the latter representing Denver in 1947. Production later traveled through the United States, particularly to Louisiana, Arizona and California. Filming also took place in Argentina and Chile for a blizzard scene.
Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" will be released Dec. 25 and stars David Thewlis and Emily Watson. It is based on a children's novel set during World War I. The film follows Joey, a horse sold to the cavalry to serve in both the British and German armies, and his young owner, Albert, in his mission to bring Joey back.
Filming locations were spread throughout England, including Devon, where the story takes place. Filming began at the estate of the Duke of Wellington in north Hampshire, including a large cavalry scene. Production then moved to Dartmoor in Devon for the family farmhouse and small local village scenes. The village of Castle Combe in Wiltshire was used as the main village in the story, despite Wiltshire architecture being different from Devon architecture.
Filming on location has become increasingly popular, even though special effects can appear just as realistic for considerably less money. Though these 10 films do use studio shots, their use of on-location shots makes them stand out.
Some of the biggest globe-circling films have already come out and are available as pay-per-view, DVD or streaming releases.
Travels with 'Harry'
In the July 15 blockbuster "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2," Harry, played by Daniel Radcliffe, and his friends Ron and Hermione, played by Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, go back to Hogwarts school for one final battle against Lord Voldemort, played by Ralph Fiennes. The film was directed by David Yates, the director for the last four "Harry Potter" films.
Filming locations were scattered throughout the United Kingdom. The Shell Cottage scenes were filmed at Freshwater West Beach in Pembrokeshire National Park. Gringotts, the wizarding bank, was filmed at the Australia House in Strand, London. Harry returns to King's Cross Station in London at the end of the film.
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" came out Aug. 5. The prequel to the original "Planet of the Apes" stars James Franco, Freida Pinto and John Lithgow and was directed by Rupert Wyatt. Locations included San Francisco, where the battle scene at the end (included in the trailer) was filmed. Filming also took place in Oahu and throughout Vancouver, Canada.
Quirky drama "The Help," which came out Aug. 10, stars Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Bryce Dallas Howard. The story takes place in Jackson, Miss., where most of the filming took place as well. Clarksdale and Greenwood, Miss., were also locations.
Gods, pirates and machines
For the May 6 blockbuster "Thor," which made more than $448 million worldwide, filming took place throughout New Mexico and Los Angeles. In the Kenneth Branagh film, the Norse god of thunder Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, is exiled to Earth as a mortal and lands in New Mexico, where he meets astrophysicist Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman.
The earthbound Thor was filmed walking the streets of a set created near Galisteo, N.M., a rural town of fewer than 300 people. The set was blown up for the scene in which Thor's brother, Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, sends down the "Destroyer" to kill Thor. The Getty Museum garden in Los Angeles was also a filming location.
One of the year's biggest hits has been "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," which came out May 20 at No. 1 at the box office and made more than $1 billion worldwide. The first film was shot mainly around the southern Caribbean near St. Vincent and Grenada, but the sequels have gone farther afield. "On Stranger Tides," with Johnny Depp and Penélope Cruz, was shot in Puerto Rico, Oahu and Kauai. Additional scenes were filmed at the Old Royal Navy College in Greenwich, London, through which runs the prime meridian, on which we all set our watches.
Michael Bay's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" debuted June 28 at No. 1 with $97 million in its opening weekend. The third in the "Transformers" series, it defied Hollywood logic of diminishing returns on sequels by becoming the largest-grossing film of the three. Locations for "Transformers" included Cambodia, Moscow, Chicago, the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Fla. The Johnson Space Center was used to shoot a scene set in the 1960s to re-create the Apollo 11 launch. In Cambodia, filming was done at the Angkor Wat temple.
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