Blockbuster Movies & Box Office Gold Filmed Right in Our Own Backyard
Going to the movies to see the latest blockbuster movie is an integral part of our culture. They are centerpieces of childhood memories, first dates or captured moments in time shared with friends and family.
A true blockbuster is generally one with a budget north of $100 million or a movie that turns into box office gold; complete with a top shelf director and an A-list cast. You might be surprised to learn that many of these epic productions were filmed right here in our backyard.
Santa Clarita, with its hot summer months and desert environment, is seemingly as far away as you can get from the icebergs of the North Atlantic, but that didn’t stop filmmaker James Cameron from shooting in Acton for his 1997 production of Titanic. The box office smash had part of its $200 million dollar budget spent on underwater scenes at Polsa Rosa Ranch. With the total gross of the movie topping $2.1 billion, it appears to be money well spent.
In addition to Titanic, the film franchise consisting of blockbusters Iron Man 1, 2 and 3 all filmed on location in Santa Clarita. The most extensive filming here was for production of the original Iron Man which shot at Blue Cloud Movie Ranch for some critical locations, including the cave scenes where the Iron Man suit was created and the middle-eastern town gets fragged by lead character Tony Stark, after he saves the villagers. Iron Man 2 shot at Mystery Mesa in the Santa Clarita Valley with a big build for CGI effects and Iron Man 3 shot a scene on the east side of town near the intersection of Sand Canyon and Placerita Canyon. These three movies combined to gross over $2 billion.
Speaking of movie franchises, one of the biggest of all time was the Twilight series that combined to gross over $3.3 billion. It all started with the original Twilight that had key scenes in Santa Clarita. When Edward and Bella are in Arizona and on the run, they run right to our very own Hyatt Regency Valencia. The popular hotel has some very recognizable screen time in the smash hit that went on to gross just under $400 million, with a paltry $37 million budget. Bella’s mom’s house was also actually a residential home on a cul-de-sac in the northwest part of Santa Clarita, although green screen technology made the street appear to go through. And, of course, Twilight star Taylor Lautner is a local product and Valencia High Alum (class of 2010).
The 2001 feature Pearl Harbor, shot by uber action director Michael Bay and starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale, was an epic in every sense of the word. Part of the $140 million budget was used right here in Santa Clarita at Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch. SCV’s most storied ranch served as the backdrop for scenes from characters Rafe and Danny’s youth. Look for the scene at the beginning of the movie with the red barn and crop dusting plane. The ranch also served as the location for a plane crash site in a rice field. The rice was planted months in advance in preparation for the shoot.
Blockbusters filming in Santa Clarita aren’t just a thing of the past. In just the last year A Wrinkle in Time, starring Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling and Chris Pine, wrapped up production right here in Santa Clarita. Set for release in spring 2018, the feature was based locally at Santa Clarita Studios and shot on location at the Santa Clarita Innovation Park (formerly known as Mann Biomedical Park) where they built sets to withstand some costly and high powered special effects. The Santa Clarita Innovation Park was also the location for explosions, gunfire and other special effects for the blockbuster Furious 7.
Productions filmed in Santa Clarita have played a major part in motion picture history, and blockbusters filmed in Santa Clarita play a major part in lifelong memories around the world.
The City of Santa Clarita’s Film Office was started in 2002 and today processes over 500 permits per year, leading to approximately 1,300 film days! Filming is a great benefit to the community, adding over $30 million of positive economic impact per year to the local economy. For a list of what has filmed in Santa Clarita, go to www.FilmSantaClarita.com and follow the City’s film office at www.Instagram.com/FilmSantaClarita.
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