A Movie Buff’s Guide to Detroit Film Locations

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Grand Circus in downtown Detroit is dressed up to look like Hong Kong for the shooting of Transformers 4. (credit: Peter Mays)

Grand Circus in downtown Detroit is dressed up to look like Hong Kong for the shooting of Transformers 4. (credit: Peter Mays)

Detroiters love spotting their neighborhood landmarks on the big screen. The Motor City has always been a fixture in movie settings, and the state tax incentives encourage filmmakers to bring the movies right outside our front door. We hear a lot about movies being filmed here, but have you ever wondered exactly where your favorite movies were created?  Detroit Proud created a guide to some of our favorite movies that have been filmed locally – and some of their actual filming locations – to answer some of those burning questions. Get your popcorn ready…and enjoy!

 

Out of Sight (1998) – Krunk Rec. Center, State Theater, Renaissance Center (Detroit, MI)

Remember when Jennifer Lopez starred in a movie that wasn’t a rom-com? It’s ok, we don’t either. We slide this one in here because Ms. Lopez co-stars alongside George Clooney in this 1998 thriller. This fun action flick is a must-see for every Detroiter and is based on the bestselling novel by the late Bloomfield Township native, Elmore Leonard. The story takes place in Detroit and uses the Krunk Gym and the State Theater for its boxing scenes. The dinner scene with Clooney and Lopez is actually the rotating Coach Insignia (it stopped rotating in 2002) restaurant atop the Renaissance Center.

 

8 Mile (2002) – Metro Detroit

Odds are, as you’re reading this, you’re listening to Eminem…or at least own the 8 Mile DVD, right? Play along see if you can spot the exact filming locations. The scenes that are set to take place at The Shelter were actually shot at a Detroit warehouse because the current condition of The Shelter looked “too nice”. Other Michigan cities that were used in 8 Mile include Highland Park, Southgate, Southfield, Warren, and Sterling Heights.

 

61* (2001) – Tiger Stadium (Detroit, MI)

Those darn Yankees! The 2001 HBO film 61*, directed by Billy Crystal, features the 1961 New York Yankees’ teammates Roger Maris (Barry Pepper) and Mikey Mantle (Thomas Jane) as they chase to beat Babe Ruth’s legendary single-season home run record. Yankee Stadium scenes were shot at a re-dressed Tiger Stadium. Infield seats at the stadium were painted green, and a partial third deck and 1961 Bronx skyline were added digitally in post-production. The cost to remove the green paint and restore the seats to their original blue color was $80,000.

 

Transformers 1-4 (2007-2014) – Metro Detroit

Unless you’ve transformed into a rock for the last seven years, you are at least somewhat aware the Transformers movies were filmed in metro Detroit. Starting in 2007, Detroit became one of many locations director Michael Bay chose to film the automated action quadrilogy. The long list of specific locations include Michigan Central Station, Meadowbrook Music Theater, GM Heritage Center, Old Wayne County Building, The Fisher Theater, and the Packard Plant, just to name a few. In an attempt to save money, filmmakers inked a production deal with General Motors. GM agreed to provide the cars that would represent the Autobots and also contributed hundreds of cars that would be destroyed in the action scenes for all four films.

 

Red Dawn (2009) – Metro Detroit

Filmed all over Michigan, this film features many local cities. Filming was done in Harper Woods, Mt. Clemens, Grand Ledge, Royal Oak, and Detroit. The video production and post-production were done at Raleigh Michigan Studios in Pontiac. This remake of the original 1984 film was filmed in 2009 and was shelved for two years due to MGM’s financial troubles.

 

A Very Harold & Kumar’s 3D Christmas (2011) – Somerset Mall (Troy, MI)

We all crave a little Harold & Kumar from time to time…did you know their latest flick was shot right here in Detroit? Yep, you heard right – the opening scene was shot at the Santa Claus display at Somerset Mall, in Troy. More scenes were shot at the Detroit Opera House and at locations in Warren and West Bloomfield Township.

 

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) Michigan Picture Studios (Pontiac, MI)

James Franco plays Oscar Diggs, a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, and is hurled away by a tornado to the vivid Land of Oz. Initially seeking fame and fortune, Franco then later is summoned to save Oz and its residents from the evil witch. This film has only two production locations, Sony Picture Studios in California…and Michigan Picture Studios, right here in Pontiac.

 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – Locations TBD!

Scheduled for release in 2016, Batman v Superman is being filmed in and around Detroit. Ben Affleck (Batman), Henry Cavill (Superman), and Jessie Eisenberg (Lex Luthor) star in what seems to be the latest in the string of superhero films. Yet to be officially confirmed due to set security, it is rumored filming has taken place on sets created in Corktown, Detroit, and near the Chrysler Headquarters in Auburn Hills. Watch out for Bat-Signals coming to a night sky near you!

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