The beauty of Hollywood is that filmmakers can make nearly any city morph into the one a story is set in. While many coastal scenes look as though they’re filmed somewhere on the east coast, many were filmed right here in Long Beach.
The aquatic capital of America has been featured in many films and TV shows over the years, some good and some bad, and now it is home to AMC’s “Lodge 49.”
Let’s take a look at some other films and TV shows filmed in Long Beach, as well as the locations they were filmed in.
“American Pie” follows a group of best friends who, aside from the womanizer in the group, seek to lose their virginity before their graduation. This teen sex comedy might have taken place in West Michigan, but much of it was actually filmed around Long Beach including Millikan High School, Long Beach Polytechnic High School and a house in the Los Cerritos area. The film was a modest critical hit but a major box office success, spawning three sequels and four spin-offs.
While the majority of the war drama was filmed around Los Angeles and Santa Clarita, the pier and bar scenes with stars Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller were actually shot in neighboring city, Seal Beach on the pier and at O’Malley’s on Main. “American Sniper” is a biopic surrounding the life of military marksman Chris Kyle who, while celebrated by the country for his service and 255 kills in four tours overseas, suffered a psychological toll that affected his family life. The film was a box office smash, grossing over half-a-billion dollars and earning generally positive reviews amidst controversy while garnering six Oscar nominations, winning one for Best Sound Editing.
“You stay classy, San Diego.”
Though Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy was reporting the news for 1974 San Diego, he and his news team’s hijinks were actually mostly filmed around Los Angeles and Long Beach, namely outside of the International Tower building off of Ocean Boulevard and the Shoreline Aquatic Park next to the Aquarium of the Pacific, as well as the Queensway Bridge. “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” followed the titular character as he and his news team clashed with the new female co-anchor in a fictional San Diego TV news station. Grossing just under $100 million at the box office and receiving generally positive reviews, the film at the time was considered a modest hit, but in the years since, has accumulated such a large cult following from audiences and critics alike and is considered one of the best comedies of both Ferrell’s career and the 2000s.
Before Ferris was shaking it up on a Von Steuben Day Parade float and driving around town in a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder, he was faking a cold at his house which, while the inside was filmed elsewhere, the exterior shots of his home were filmed at a luxurious place located in the Los Cerritos area not but two blocks from the house featured in “American Pie.” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” centered around the titular high school senior (Matthew Broderick) who fakes being sick in order to enjoy a day off in Chicago with his chronically-anxious best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara). Written and directed by ‘80s mastermind John Hughes, “Ferris” was one of the highest-grossing films of 1986 and is considered one of the greatest high school movies of all time, as well as the main launch to stardom for Broderick.
It’s both one of the more oft-forgotten and underrated remakes in Hollywood, as well as films in Nicolas Cage’s career, but “Gone in 60 Seconds” was a legitimately thrilling and fast-paced joy ride that is not only set in Long Beach and Los Angeles, but actually filmed here as well, including classic bar Joe Jost’s off of Anaheim Street and a bombastic stunt on the Vincent Thomas Bridge. “Gone in 60 Seconds” follows a former car thief (Cage) who must get back into the game when his younger brother (Giovanni Ribisi) gets involved with the new head of organized crime (Christopher Eccleston) in Long Beach and must deliver 50 stolen, expensive cars in 72 hours or his brother will be killed. Though the film was not a critical success, it was a commercial hit and has garnered a very positive reception from audiences.
It’s been considered one of the greatest musicals of this decade, and while much of the story is set around the city of Los Angeles, some of it was filmed right here in Long Beach, including The Blind Donkey off of Linden Avenue in the downtown area and the Rose Tower apartments off of Third Street. “La La Land” reunited Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as a jazz pianist and an aspiring actress who meet and fall in love in LA as they work toward achieving their dreams. The film was a major box office hit and received largely positive reviews from critics and audiences, garnering 13 Oscar nominations and winning six of them.
Very rarely does the city actually get portrayed on screen as itself, but “Lodge 49” has opted to change that by including outdoor scenes filmed nearly exclusively around LB, including a residence off of 46th Street, Bluff Park and Bixby Village Golf Course. “Lodge 49” centers on a former surfer injured by a snake bite struggling in Long Beach who joins a fraternal lodge that holds surreal mysteries. The Wyatt Russell-led dramedy has received mediocre ratings but has received rave reviews from critics and audiences for its surreal,comedic tone and performances from its cast.
As with many other movies set in Hollywood, “Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny” ventured to the city to film some key scenes for the movie, including using Alex’s Bar as the location of the final battle between Jables (Jack Black), Kage (Kyle Gass) and the Devil (Dave Grohl), as well as downtown being used in a car chase between the duo and the police. “Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny” tells the fictional story of the real band’s origins in which two aspiring rockers in the ‘90s set out on a quest to find a pick belonging to Satan to become rock gods. The film was a box office bomb and only received mixed reviews from critics, but it has become a cult classic among fans of the band and beyond, with Black announcing a potential sequel this year.