You are probably thinking that we are going to be talking about American cities which have gone the furthest in modernizing their infrastructure and allowing their citizens and visitors to revel in the achievements of modern technology. Well, we are not. We are talking about cities that have been immortalized in some of the best science fiction movies Hollywood has ever made.
Various buildings and sights from those cities have featured in some of the most beloved sci-fi movies and today, we are going to talk about some of them so you can plan your next trip into Hollywood history.
Blade Runner, a 1982 Ridley Scott movie and one of the greatest films ever made, was shot in Los Angeles, mostly on a sound stage, apart from a few scenes that required particular atmosphere and that were filmed in and around some of LA’s most iconic buildings. For example, the police station where Harrison Ford works was filmed at LA’s Union Station which was somewhat modified to make it look more like a dystopian future police station.
The apartment that Ford’s character lives was filmed in one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s classic buildings, the Ennis House. Blade Runner is not the first movie to be filmed there, but it was the one that most effectively used the designs that made Ennis House a true work of art. The final scenes of the movie were filmed in the Bradbury Building, after hours. At the time, Bradbury Building was home to a department store and Ridley and his team had to work during nights, transforming it into an ominous stage for the final showdown.
Robocop, Paul Verhoeven’s classic from 1987 was filmed in Dallas, despite the fact that the movie is supposed to be happening in Detroit of the future. Verhoeven and the production team “assembled” the building of the Omni Consumer Products, the company which “creates” Robocop from three different locations.
For the exterior, they used the Dallas City Hall, one of the most gorgeous modern buildings in all of Texas and country, for that matter. For the interior, they turned to Plaza of the Americas, a huge shopping center. For the garage, they went to the Rosewood Crescent, a hotel which featured a garage that was perfect for Robocop.
Dallas had already been featured in the 1976 movie Logan’s Run, together with another Texan city, Fort Worth. The famous “City” was filmed at the Dallas Market Center while the Hulen Mall in Fort Worth was used for additional scenes, even though it was only being completed at the time.
Perhaps the most iconic locale from the movie, the hydro-electric power generator, was filmed at the Fort Worth Water Gardens, one of the most spectacular architectural attractions in the United States. The Gardens were designed by Philip Johnson and they look as modern and as futuristic today as they did when they were constructed. Even if you do not consider yourself much of an SF fan, you should definitely check the Gradens out.
A more recent sci-fi masterpiece Minority Report, directed by Steven Spielberg, was shot mostly in Los Angeles, despite the fact the movie is supposed to take place in Washington D.C. That being said, a few buildings from the U.S. capital still made it to the movie, such as the Ronald Reagan Trade Center which stood for the Department of PreCrime, i.e. Tom Cruise’s workplace and The Willard Washington DC Hotel where the lavish party towards the end of the movie happens.
In Los Angeles, the Descanso Botanic Gardens stood in for the place where Lois Smith’s character Dr. Hineman lives and where Tom Cruise’s character learns a number of important facts about the PreCrime program. Cruise and Samantha Morton also visit an abandoned shopping mall during their time hiding from the police. These scenes were filmed at the Hawthorne Plaza Mall which has been mostly abandoned in real life too, serving mostly as a training facility for LAPD.
A number of other cities and their locales stood in for various buildings in sci-fi movies over the last couple of decades, but these are the most iconic and most recognizable. If you find the time, visit them. It is hell of an experience.