Scenes set in stone

These eight movie sets are classic fan favorites that are worth a visit in Orange County.



Jehn Kubiak, Writer

Many moviegoers may view a movie and desire to venture to the place on the screen in front of them. Even though locations in movie take fictional names, many of them are actual places around the world and in the United States. Although many movies were filmed in the Hollywood area or in other areas of Los Angeles,Orange County contains a few sets from classic films nearby campus. After watching any of these movies, take a group of friends on an excursion to one of these locations and imagine yourself in the shoes of your favorite movie character.

1. “National Treasure” (2004)

Marika Adamopoulos
Knott’s Berry Farm. |

National Treasure,” starring Nicolas Cage, features a scene in the amusement park Knott’s Berry Farm, located about 10 minutes from campus down Beach Blvd. The movie features Knott’s “Independence Hall,” a replica of the building with the same name in Philadelphia. You can visit this building while in the park for free admission. The building contains audio retelling of the debate that led to the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. In addition, it has a replica of the Liberty Bell. The outside scenes of Independence Hall were filmed at the original location, but scenes inside the building were filmed at Knott’s.

2. “Back to the Future” (1985)

Marika Adamopoulos
Hollywood United Methodist Church. |

The school Marty attends in “Back to the Future” — Whittier High School — actually exists and is a quick 15 minute drive from campus. However, the scene where Marty is at his parents’ prom was not filmed at the school, but was instead filmed in the basement of Hollywood United Methodist Church in Hollywood.  

3. “That Thing You Do” (1996)

Old Town Orange. |

This comedy starring Tom Hanks was filmed at Old Town Orange, but, the movie’s producers aimed to create a set that resembled Erie, Pennsylvania. The majority of the movie was filmed at the plaza but it also includes scenes filmed at the Watson Drug Store and Patterson’s Appliances, now a toy store called Tiddlywinks. Despite its small size, Old Towne Orange is the largest historic district in California and houses a variety of shops including antique stores, restaurants, coffeehouses, tea rooms and specialty shops.

4. “Iron Man” (2008)

Marika Adamopoulos
The office of Masimo, located at the intersection of Irvine Center and Discovery. |

Brace yourselves, Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. fans — Stark’s headquarters is only a short, 30 minute drive away and was the headquarters of Nikken, now the office of Masimo, located at the intersection of Irvine Center and Discovery.

5. “Legally Blonde (2001)”

The Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, California. |

Legally Blonde” is a classic chick flick that won many hearts. The movie’s famous court scene where Elle defends Brooke was filmed at the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, Calif. Courthouse scenes from “Catch Me If You Can” were also filmed in the same courthouse.

6. “Conquest of Planet of the Apes (1972)”

Marika Adamopoulos
University of California, Irvine campus. |

The fourth movie in this five-movie series was filmed on University of California, Irvine’s campus. The opening scene features steps leading toward UCI’s Social Science Tower, while the protest and demonstration scenes includes the University Administration building.

7. “She’s All That (1999)”

Marika Adamopoulos
Cerritos Center for Performing Arts. |

This romantic comedy starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook contains theatre scenes in the movie filmed at the Cerritos Center for Performing Arts, which hosts a variety theatrical performances and concerts each year.

8. “Hancock (2008)”

Marika Adamopoulos
Plaza tower in Costa Mesa. |

A scene from “Hancock” features the Plaza Tower in Costa Mesa in the scene where public relations spokesman Ray Embrey pitches his idea for the All-Heart logo at a meeting. This building is the second tallest in Orange County with over 470,000 square footage and houses corporations and firms. In addition, the jail scenes were shot at a correctional center in Whittier. However, the center is now closed.


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