10 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Filmed In San Diego

Ana Sofia de la Cámara Ana Sofia de la Cámara

10 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Filmed In San Diego

We all know Hollywood is the capital of the movie business. However, San Diego has its own long and varied history with motion pictures! Below is a list of 10 movies you might not have known were filmed in San Diego! Who knows, this might help you win your local trivia night!

Balboa Park: Citizen Kane (1941)

Starting strong, Citizen Kane is largely considered the greatest movie ever made. Orson Wells was only 25 when he directed, co-wrote, starred in, and produced the film. Let that sink in for a second… Anyways! The film starts with a newsreel of Xanadu, Kane’s estate. This was made up of a montage of Balboa Park’s “El Cid” equestrian statue, the San Diego Museum of Art, and The Museum of Us.

Hotel Del Coronado: Some Like It Hot (1959)

Another classic film with ties to San Diego is Some Like It Hot! In it, San Diego also acts as a stand-in for Florida! It is directed by the legendary Billy Wilder and written by him and I. A. L. Diamond. This joy-filled ride has witty dialogue, given even more charm by its fantastic stars Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe. Most of the movie was filmed in Hotel del Coronado, where you’ll see the trio get into shenanigans.

Hotel Del Coronado: My Blue Heaven (1990)

Yet another film in the iconic Hotel del Coronado stars Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, and Joan Cusack. This comedy is about a gangster re-located to a fictional San Diego suburb under the witness protection program. Some scenes were also shot at City Hall.

Multiple Locations: Top Gun (1986)

Perhaps Tom Cruise’s star-making turn as Maverik is what first comes to mind when thinking of films in San Diego. The intersection of Union Street and W Laurel Street is where the memorable motorcycle scene was filmed. Lafayette Hotel’s Red Fox Room, South Pacific, and Seagaze Drive are other vital locations.

Mission Bay: Freaky Friday (1976)

This Disney classic stars a young Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris as mother and daughter struggling to see eye to eye. The film takes place in the beautiful neighborhood of Mission Bay. Mission Bay is known for its marine life and water sports since it is 50% made up of water! The film’s final scene even takes place in a water skiing competition.

San Diego Harbor and UCSD: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)

This cult classic is a mockumentary about…you might have guessed…killer tomatoes. The 1978 film was shot in San Diego and included many shots within the UCSD campus and San Diego Harbor.


Balboa Park: Anchorman 1 &2 (2004 & 2013)

What is it with the 70s and San Diego? Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, and Christina Applegate star in this raunchy comedy. Anchorman only had aerial shots of downtown San Diego in the film. Its sequel, however, included Balboa Park, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, and the San Diego Waterfront.

Ocean Beach: Almost Famous (2000)

This 2000 film stars Patrick Fugit, Kate Hudson, and Billy Crudup.
Since it’s set in the 1970s, it needed that laid-back hippie atmosphere of a bygone era. That’s why Ocean Beach was the perfect place to film. The movie is about a teenage music journalist who travels with the band Stillwaters to write for the Rolling Stone! Now that’s legit. What’s even cooler still is how Cameron Crowe, the writer-director, based the protagonist off his own experience as a teen journalist. The band Stillwaters is a stand-in for The Allman Brothers. Filming took place at the former San Diego Sports Arena and, of course, the famed Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach.

Multiple Locations: Traffic (2000)

An award-winning 2000 film starring Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Zones, Benicio Del Toro, Traffic is based on the War on Drugs. There are multiple scenes around the city, including the Rancho Bernardo Inn, Botanical Garden of Balboa Park, Marriott Hotel and Marina, Hall of Justice, La Jolla, and even a car explosion in Downtown San Diego!

Harbor Island: Bruce Almighty (2003)

Remember this 2003 comedy starring Jim Carrey as a man with the literal power of God? The movie had actually already wrapped shooting when the filmmakers decided they needed an additional scene. This is where San Diego came through to save the day! The additional night scene was shot on Harbor Island. The crew worked with local businesses to ensure that holiday lights were turned off during the shooting.

[Featured Image from IMDB.com]

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