Lights, camera, Alabama!
Movie productions find a home here
By Allison Griffin
Alabama is fortunate to have a diversity of environments – mountains, marshes and wetlands, beaches, quaint small towns and historically significant metro areas – that are appealing to producers and filmmakers. In whole or in part, Alabama has been the location for several big-screen and made-for-TV movies over the years:
- Actress Kate Bosworth gave the town of Fairhope some love on social media when she was there in late 2013 shooting “Before I Wake,” a horror/thriller that hasn’t yet been released in the U.S. Among her tweets: “Truly there is nothing like Southern charm.”
- Also filmed in Fairhope was “Coffee Shop,” the 2014 romantic comedy/drama by Birmingham filmmakers Jon and Andy Erwin. (Alabama Living featured the Erwin brothers in the October 2015 issue when their movie, “Woodlawn,” about the racial tensions in a 1970s Birmingham high school, was released.)
- The Erwin brothers were also behind “Moms’ Night Out,” the 2014 comedy starring Patricia Heaton and Sean Astin, which was filmed in Birmingham.
- Fairhope and Mobile were also the locations for the horror/mystery film “Oculus,” released in 2014.
- Greenville served as the location for 2007’s “Honeydripper,” starring Danny Glover.
- The 2006 adventure/fantasy film “Big Fish,” starring Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney, was filmed in Montgomery, Elmore and Autauga counties. (See story on the fictional town of Spectre HERE.)
Some moviemakers want an Alabama location for specific scenes and backdrops:
- “Failure to Launch,” the 2006 film starring Matthew McConaughey, featured Cherokee Rock Village near Leesburg in northeast Alabama for many of the outdoor scenes.
- Some scenes in the 2006 movie “Heavens Fall,” based on the story of the Scottsboro Boys, were filmed in Monroeville.
- Rickwood Field, the historic ballpark in Birmingham, has served as a location for several movies, including the Jackie Robinson story “42,” the 1994 film “Cobb” with Tommy Lee Jones, and the 1996 TV movie “Soul of the Game,” about Negro League players Robinson, Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson.
- The USS Alabama and Fairhope were used for some scenes of 1992’s “Under Siege,” starring Steven Seagal.
- Selma’s history has long attracted filmmakers. In addition to the Oscar-nominated “Selma,” released in 2014 and directed by Ava Duvernay, the 1994 movie “Blue Sky” with Jessica Lange and Tommy Lee Jones had scenes shot in Selma and at its now-closed Craig Field. “Body Snatchers,” a 1993 film adaptation of “The Body Snatchers” directed by Abel Ferrara, was also filmed at Craig Field.
- The Talladega Superspeedway was featured in 1983’s “Stroker Ace,” starring Burt Reynolds as a NASCAR driver, as well as 2006’s “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” starring Will Ferrell.
- Burt Reynolds dazzled fans in 1978’s “Hooper,” part of which was filmed in Tuscaloosa on the grounds of the Northington General Hospital, a World War II military hospital near the University of Alabama. The hospital buildings and two smokestacks were exploded or demolished as part of the film and the University Mall occupies the space today.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger won a Golden Globe for his role as a bodybuilder in the 1976 movie, “Stay Hungry,” filmed in Birmingham.