10 Movies You Didn't Know Were Filmed in Arizona | Phoenix New Times

10 Movies You Didn't Know Were Filmed in Arizona

Our state has lent its scenery to some great movies.
Flagstaff's Hotel Monte Vista was key to Casablanca.
Flagstaff's Hotel Monte Vista was key to Casablanca. © 1942 Warner Home Entertainment
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Editor's note: In honor of our virtual Raising Arizona viewing party tonight at 8 p.m. (details can be found here), we're bringing back this list of films shot in the Copper State, which originally ran in 2014.

At this point, most Arizonans should know that Alfred Hitchcock filmed the opening sequences of Psycho in downtown Phoenix. You also probably remember seeing our freeways in Little Miss Sunshine.

Since Arizona used to offer generous tax breaks for people looking to shoot films in the Grand Canyon State, a lot of classics were shot here — including some that might surprise you. From desert locales in faraway lands to sci-fi landscapes, our state has lent its scenery to some great movies.

Here are 10 of our favorite movies shot in Arizona.


While most of this classic tale of love and longing was shot in a studio in Van Nuys, California, one of the film's hotel scenes was shot in Flagstaff's Hotel Monte Vista, which was a common lodging spot for famous actors during Hollywood's golden age.

Dead Man

This Jim Jarmusch flick explores the spiritual realm and features one of Johnny Depp's more trippy roles. It only makes sense to shoot in a place like Sedona, known for its vortexes and mysticism. The film was also shot in Cave Creek, Camp Verde, and Flagstaff.

Forrest Gump

Although Forrest Gump was shot pretty much all over the country, Arizona's Twin Arrows provided the landscape for the famous scene where Forrest helps invent the smiley face logo.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Believe it or not, Page has been a popular spot for filming movies and television shows. One of the most iconic films to be shot there is the second Indiana Jones movie, which was perfect for simulating mountainous desert regions in India.

Wild Wild West

Okay, so maybe this isn't one of the best movies ever, but we dare you not to get that Will Smith song stuck in your head after reading this. The steampunk-y, sci-fi western flick might not be a classic, but it did showcase southern Arizona locales like Nogales and Old Tucson.

Wayne's World

Everyone knows Wayne's World takes place in Aurora, Illinois, right? Well, actually, some scenes were shot in Mesa and Scottsdale. Excellent.

Tank Girl

This comic book turned movie is a cult classic for a couple of reasons: It's weird, and it totally kicks ass. Plus, it's one of the few films to have been shot all over Arizona, with Tucson and the Phoenix area both providing locations for the dystopian sci-fi flick.

Planet of the Apes

Speaking of dystopian sci-fi, both the original Charlton Heston Planet of the Apes and the Mark Wahlberg reboot were shot in Page.

Natural Born Killers

Oliver Stone used different locations all over the Southwest to provide the setting for his tale of two star-crossed lovers on a murderous rampage. The film features many New Mexican towns like Taos, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. However, Holbrook, Arizona, was also featured in the film.

Star Wars Episodes IV and VI

Last but certainly not least, Star Wars crews used the rolling desert dunes outside of Yuma to re-create shots originally filmed in Tunisia, which is pretty much the coolest thing that's ever happened to Arizona, even if it was just some shots for the special editions.
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