While Dallas (along with Fort Worth) is sometimes referred to as “Metroplex,” given the number of movies that have been filmed in and around the area, it might more appropriately be called “Multiplex.” Here are some of the big names and big blockbusters that were shot in the Big D:
- Bottle Rocket (1996) – The film that launched the careers of actors Luke and Owen Wilson, and director Wes Anderson. This story of three friends – and their elaborate plan to pull off a simple robbery – was shot in various locations around Dallas, including Hinckley Cold Storage, Highland Park Pharmacy, Deep Ellum and St. Marks.
- Batman & Robin (1997) – Considered by many to be the worst Batman film of all time (despite starring George Clooney, Uma Thurman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone), this comic book flick had Dallas standing in for several parts of Gotham City.
- JFK (1991) – Not all that surprising, really, since many of the historical events depicted in the film took place in Dallas, surrounding the 1963 assassination of America’s 35th
- RoboCop (1987) – Despite being set in Detroit, this futuristic thriller was largely filmed in Dallas. Some of the noteworthy locations include the Dallas Municipal Building, City Hall, Dallas Public Library, Fountain Place, Plaza of the Americas, The Bomb Factory and Reunion Tower. (The 2014 remake – still set in Detroit — was filmed entirely in Canada.)
RoboCop’s first Directive, “Serve the public trust,” was inspired by a fortune cookie.
- Primer (2004) – An engineer builds a machine that can transport the user back in time. But his discovery comes with an ominous warning. This twisty sci-fi thriller went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Written and directed by Shane Carruth (who also stars), and reportedly filmed on a $7,000 budget, “Primer” did location shooting at the University of Texas at Dallas, as well as Ziziki’s Restaurant.
- Office Space (1999) – This workplace comedy (and cult favorite) was the first live-action feature written and directed by Mike Judge, the creator of “King of the Hill” and “Beavis and Butt-Head.” Although he filmed in and around Dallas (and Austin), Judge deliberately kept the locations nondescript, in keeping with the film’s humdrum theme.
- Born on the Fourth of July (1989) – Based on activist Ron Kovic’s autobiography and starring Tom Cruise, this Oscar-winning film examines Kovic’s wartime experience, as well as his pre- and post-war life in Massapequa (my hometown!), a village on the south shore of Long Island. But instead of actually filming on Long Island, where the summer weather is quite rainy, director Oliver Stone shot those sequences in Dallas – with parts of the Oak Cliff area transformed into Massapequa. Some of the locations used include Henderson Elementary School, Southern Methodist University, Milo Butterfingers, the Dallas Convention Center, Dallas Hall and Dedman College.
“Born on the Fourth of July” Trivia
The actor who plays the young Ron Kovic, Bryan Larkin, is – like Kovic himself – from Massapequa. But because the film was mostly shot in Texas, Larkin had to leave Massapequa and go to Dallas… for scenes that took place in… Massapequa!
- The Tree of Life (2011) – This impressionistic, Oscar-nominated film tells the story of a Texas family, and the disillusioned son who tries to reconcile the complicated relationship he had with his father while seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life. Created by auteur Terence Malik, the film – which stars Brad Pitt, Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain – was shot in various sites around the world, including Dallas. Sharp observers will be able to pick out the Meyerson Symphony Center, Chapel of Thanksgiving and a few other prominent downtown buildings.
- Borat (2006) – Sacha Baron Cohen’s most surprising creation – a TV host from Kazakhstan who goes on a cross-country odyssey to report on the greatest country in the world. The film was a huge hit and nabbed an Oscar nomination for its screenplay. While the production was shot all around the world, some scenes were filmed at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas.
- The Faculty (1998) – A high school-set horror film where the students suspect that their teachers are actually aliens. Directed by the prolific Robert Rodriguez, the movie stars Salma Hayek, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Patrick, Famke Janssen and, in rare acting roles, Jon Stewart and Usher Raymond. Although “The Faculty” is set at Harrington High School on Ohio, it was filmed all across Rodriguez’s native Texas, including Dallas.
- True Stories (1986) – A small but growing Texas town, filled with strange and musical characters, celebrates its sesquicentennial and converges on a local parade and talent show. Directed by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and co-written with playwright Beth Henley and character actor Stephen Tobolowsky (a Dallas native), “True Stories” includes NorthPark Mall and other notable Dallas landmarks among its filming locations.
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