Philadelphia has served as the backdrop for many of Hollywood’s most memorable films. Philly’s rich history makes it the perfect set for many Hollywood movies, and most of those locations can still be visited today. Philly is often portrayed as a main character on the silver screen, adding a sense of place and realism to a film. Philly has also been known disguise itself in the place of other cities in film, often being a cheaper option and standing in for cities like New York. Here is a quick look at some of the films shot here in Philadelphia, both as a featured location in the story, as well as some times Philly went masquerading as somewhere else:
Rocky (1976) Quite possibly the best movie to ever come out of Philly is the classic and beloved Rocky. Interesting fun fact…back in 1976, Rocky’s onscreen apartment was owned in real life by Eleanor O’Hey. When the first movie was filmed she was given $50 for the rights to shoot outside and in her home due to the small budget. When Rocky II came around, the fee was bumped up to…wait for it…$500! The apartment still stands today and is a tourist destination for fans.
Creed (2015) Creed not only payed homage to the Rocky series in filming, it also payed homage to the city of Philadelphia itself. The movie showed primarily the run-down areas of Philly, afflicted with blight and more indicative of the 1976 Philadelphia showcased in Rocky, rather than the thriving and eclectic and (let’s face it) the mixed bag of gentrified areas butting right up against the blight and old neighborhoods that represent the Philadelphia of today.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012) The role that earned Jennifer Lawrence an Oscar and made Bradley Cooper a household name was shot in Philadelphia. Here Philly didn’t play as much as an iconic role as it did in Rocky, but the home team (talking about the Eagles) got some love in the script.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) In the follow up sequel, Shia Lebouf’s character Sam attends college at the University of Pennsylvania. For a good part of the first half of the movie, the campus is featured heavily. When the action kicks into high gear, the film takes the characters by Schuylkill River and then to Eastern State Penitentiary.
National Treasure (2004) Remember that rich history I spoke of earlier? Well in this movie, Nicholas Cage plays a character on a treasure hunt that takes him all over the world, but most especially in the city that was the birthplace of liberty. Cage was able to film in Independence Hall and handle a faux Declaration of Independence. Philly is basically a co-star in this one.
Every M. Night Shyamalan Film: A Philadelphia native, M. Night is known for basing his stories in and around the Philadelphia area, and filming all (or as much as possible) in the city. Even his most recent movie, Split, follows this trend, having filmed scenes at the King of Prussia Mall, 30th Street Station, and the Philadelphia Zoo.
As stated earlier, Philly has served as New York quite a few times in recent years. Movies like Limitless starring Bradley Cooper, Safe with Jason Statham, Dead Man Down with Colin Farrell, and Paranoia with Liam Hemsworth. All shot in Philly, but made to look like New York or other locales.