(WHNT) — What movies come to mind when you think about films set in Alabama?
You might think of the Oscar-winning Tom Hanks vehicle “Forrest Gump,” the 1991 adaptation of Fannie Flagg’s book, “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe,” or 1962’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” However, it might surprise you to know that not one frame of those famous “Alabama” films were actually shot in the state.
Both “Gump” and “Fried Green Tomatoes” were Georgia-centric productions. Even “Gump” as a known commodity in Alabama found itself mostly shot in South Carolina, except with the famous bench scenes in Savannah, Ga. Monroeville, Ala., the town Harper Lee based the fictional Maycomb on, was remade at Universal Studios for “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
With those big films out of the way, you’re probably now wondering, “Okay, well… what movies WERE filmed in Alabama?” We’ve got you covered.
Here are some of the most famous films made in Alabama:
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
- What’s it about? A everyman working as a electric lineman in Indiana has his life changed after an encounter with an unidentified flying object (UFO).
- Who starred in it? Richard Dreyfuss leads a cast that includes Francois Truffaut, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, and many others.
- Where was it filmed in Alabama? Despite Steven Spielberg not wanting to do any location shooting after “Jaws” (1975), he eventually conceded, shooting scenes in Bay Minette and Fairhope, as well as the now-closed Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile.
- Did you know? This movie is shown every night at the Devil’s Tower KOA Campground, making it one of the most screened films ever.
Norma Rae (1979)
- What’s it about? A factory worker with little formal education becomes involved in union politics when one of her co-workers’ health is affected due to poor working conditions.
- Who starred in it? Sally Field (who won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role here), Ron Leibman, Beau Bridges, and Pat Hingle.
- Where was it filmed in Alabama? Shooting took place on location in Opelika, with mill scenes at the Opelika Manufacturing Corporation and motel scenes at The Golden Cherry Motel.
- Did you know? Both Field and Bridges researched their roles in the film by working in an actual factory.
Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)
- What’s it about? In the 7th installment of the “Friday the 13th” horror franchise, a psychokinetic teenager accidentally releases serial killer Jason Voorhees from his underwater tomb at the bottom of Crystal Lake, allowing him to go on yet another killing spree.
- Who starred in it? Lar Park Lincoln, Kevin Blair, Susan Blu, Terry Kiser, and Kane Hodder behind the hockey mask as Jason Voorhees.
- Where was it filmed in Alabama? Mobile, according to the Alabama Film Index.
- Did you know? This is the final film credit for Walt Gorney, who served as the narrator of the film and starred as “Crazy Ralph” in the first two movies.
Blue Sky (1994)
- What’s it about? After moving to a military base with her family, a woman becomes involved in a cover-up related to nuclear bomb tests in the 1960s.
- Who starred in it? Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones lead a cast that includes Powers Boothe, Carrie Snogress, Amy Locane, and Chris O’Donnell.
- Where was it filmed in Alabama? Portions of the film were filmed at the now-closed Craig Air Force Base near Selma.
- Did you know? This was the final film made by director Tony Richardson, who passed away three years before it debuted in theaters.
Big Fish (2003)
- What’s it about? A family living in Paris return to the husband’s hometown of Ashton, Ala. when news breaks that his cancer-stricken father has been taken off chemotherapy and will soon pass away.
- Who starred in it? Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup, Jessica Lange, Marion Cotillard, and Tim Burton’s staple actress and former partner, Helena Bonham Carter.
- Where was it filmed in Alabama? Apart from one week of filming in Paris, “Big Fish” was shot on location in Wetumpka, Montgomery, and Tallassee, Ala. The set for the fictional town of Spectre still remains on Jackson Lake Island between Montgomery and Millbrook.
- Did you know? Director Tim Burton kept the ventriloquist dummy from the film’s war sequence and has it at his home. He named it Lang.
- What’s it about? This mockumentary about one of Sacha Baron Cohen’s best known characters follows the titular Borat, a fictional journalist from Kazakhstan who travels through the United States to make a film about everyday Americans.
- Who starred in it? Sacha Baron Cohen, obviously, along with Ken Davitan, Luenell, and Pam Anderson.
- Where was it filmed in Alabama? Two segments in the movie were filmed in Birmingham and Helena. Baron Cohen returned to Alabama to film “Bruno” in Vestavia Hills and some scenes in Madison County.
- Did you know? The police were called on lead actor Sacha Baron Cohen 92 times during the film’s production.
Failure to Launch (2006)
- What’s it about? The parents of a 35-year-old man (McConaughey) still living at home hire an expert (Parker) to help their son move out of their home.
- Who starred in it? Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker led a cast that included Zooey Deschanel, Justin Bartha, Terry Bradshaw, Kathy Bates, and Bradley Cooper.
- Where was it filmed in Alabama? The scenes involving rock climbing were filmed at Cherokee Rock Village in Leesburg.
- Did you know? Brooke Shields, Reese Witherspoon, and Tori Spelling all turned down the female lead role that eventually went to Sarah Jessica Parker.
- What’s it about? This historical biopic chronicles the voting rights march led by Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Ala. in 1965.
- Who starred in it? David Oyelowo starred as King, with Carmen Ejogo as his wife Coretta Scott King, and Oprah Winfrey, Tom Wilkinson, and Andre Holland in supporting roles.
- Where was it filmed in Alabama? While most of the filming took place in Atlanta, key scenes were filmed on location in Selma around the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and in Montgomery.
- Did you know? The late congressman John Lewis served as a historical consultant and mentor to director Ava DuVernay during the film’s production.
Get Out (2017)
- What’s it about? Without spoiling anything, this Oscar-winning film follows a young Black photographer who uncovers shocking secrets about his white girlfriend’s family when he meets them for the very first time.
- Who starred in it? Then-newcomer Daniel Kaluuya starred alongside Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones, and Lakeith Stanfield, among others.
- Where was it filmed in Alabama? Most of the film was shot on location in Fairhope, with some scenes at Barton Academy and Ashland Place Historic District in Mobile. The entire movie was shot in 23 days.
- Did you know? This film’s success led to Jordan Peele becoming the first African-American writer, producer, and director to earn more than $100 million on a debut film.
The Devil All the Time (2020)
- What’s it about? Set in the landscapes of Ohio and West Virginia, this story follows multiple characters, including a disturbed veteran, a pair of married serial killers, and a false preacher in the years after the end of World War II.
- Who starred in it? Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Sebastian Stan, Haley Bennett, Eliza Scanlen, Mia Wasikowska, and Robert Pattinson.
- Where was it filmed in Alabama? Principal photography took place in Blount County, Anniston, Pell City, Deatsville, Birmingham, and Montevallo in the spring of 2019.
- Did you know? Despite receiving top billing for the film, lead actor Tom Holland doesn’t appear in the movie until 46 minutes in.
For more films made right here in Alabama, visit the Alabama Film Index here.