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Revealed: the most popular movie locations in the world

From California deserts to central London, these places have hosted more film shoots than any others

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

There’s something quite glamorous about seeing somewhere you know in a Hollywood blockbuster. From that moment on, you can strut down the street and pretend you are James Bond, or Holly Golightly, or Iron Man. Pretty sweet, eh?

But which places are the most popular filming locations? Well, Giggster (a company that, appropriately, books filming locations for movies) has trawled the numbers to find out. By simply totting up the number of blockbusters filmed in certain locations, the firm has come up with a ranking of the world’s most frequently used movie settings. 

Topping the list is Central Park in New York City, which, when you really think about it, seems obvious. From The Avengers and Home Alone 2 to Breakfast at Tiffany’s and When Harry Met Sally, Central Park is both huge and adaptable. It fits just as well as a spooky Bird Lady’s lair as it does as a ridiculously romantic meeting point or even an arena for a superhero showdown. Over the years, Giggster reckons Central Park has been seen in 352 films.

Following in a distant second is Bronson Canyon just outside Los Angeles. Barren, rocky and mysterious, Bronson Canyon has proven an apt setting for sci-fi films and westerns. Giggster counts 236 movies that have used the quarry over the years, from Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Star Trek VI to cowboy classic The Lone Ranger. It no doubt helps that such a picturesque locale is within spitting distance of Hollywood itself. Yee-haw!

Third was another California location, Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park, which looks so alien that it’s been used to film several Star Trek movies and TV shows. It’s a pretty dry, unforgiving landscape – in other words, the perfect filming location for the likes of Holes, the live-action Flintstones and Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes.

So what about other, non-US movie settings? Well, Canada’s Niagara Falls has apparently been featured in 143 films (Pirates of the Caribbean, Superman II and, obviously, Niagara, to name a few), while London’s Trafalgar Square has featured in 104 movies, from Wonder Woman and Skyfall to 101 Dalmatians. (Tom Cruise even landed a helicopter there.)

Also in the top ten is Cabo de Gata in Spain, a national park which is known for its picturesque dusty deserts and has been used for films like Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeThe Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Lawrence of Arabia.

Giggster also ranked which countries feature the most in movies. Predictably, the USA easily tops that poll with 1,123 films, followed by the UK (187) and Canada (143).

Looking at those numbers, you might well be thinking – aren’t they a little… low? And indeed they are. Considering that Hollywood alone typically makes between 600 and 800 new films every year, the project clearly had a pretty limited sample size.

In any case, you can have a look at Giggster’s study for yourself here.

Got five minutes to spare? Want to tell us what life is like in your city? Take the Time Out Index survey here. 

Plus: check out our very own list of 101 places all movie lovers should visit.

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