America is one of the unsung stars of the silver screen, an Oscar winner in the best supporting role in every film that has been made there. It is inspiring a new kind of tourism as film fans live the movie star life by holidaying in some of the USA’s most iconic film locations.
Set Jetting Holidays
Research has proved UK tourists choose their holiday destination by the scenes they see on the cinema screen. Popular locations attract more than 30 per cent more tourism after movies shot there are released in cinemas.
Some of the countries benefiting from this phenomenon of film tourism are New Zealand where Lord of the Rings was filmed and Thailand where tourism was boosted when Leonardo di Caprio starred in The Beach. Kefalonia in Greece had a similar tourism surge after the release of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin starring Nicholas Cage but the United States of America still remains the home of the movies and parts of the country are so inexplicably entwined with celluloid, it has to be every film buff’s dream destination to spend their American holidays inside the silver screen.
New York City and its dramatic skyline has been the backdrop for countless movies from King Kong through Saturday Night Fever to Men in Black and The Smurfs and is now a destination of choice for tourists from the UK. Its landmarks such as Times Square, the streets of Manhattan and the Empire State Building are familiar to thousands of film fans, whilst the advantage of a big city that doubles as a film set is the ability to stay near or close to your favourite film locations.
Prefer the great outdoors? The rugged red rock formations of Monument Valley are where rugged actors like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood filmed some of the greatest western movies ever made, such as a Fistful of Dollars and The Searchers. Billboard posters advertise Monument Valley as the “8th Wonder of the World,” the huge flat expanse of land, bigger than the smallest ten states of America and located on the border of Utah and Arizona is administered by the Navajo Nation but most visitors simply call it John Wayne country.
The Windy City of Chicago, Illinois, doesn’t have to blow its own trumpet; it has been the star of countless movies from North by Northwest and The Sting to The Blues Brothers and The Fugitive. It even doubled as Gotham City in The Dark Knight with Christian Bale. You can visit Lyon’s Delicatessen on Maxwell Street where Aretha Franklin sang “Think” or check out the billiard rooms where Paul Newman and Tom Cruise shot the pool scenes for The Colour of Money in Jefferson Park.
Of course no film lover’s American holiday would be complete without a trip to Los Angeles and the movie capital of the world, Hollywood. You can tour studios, take a glimpse behind the scenes or relax in Beverley Hills, home of the movie stars and follow in the handprints of screen legends on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at Gruman’s Chinese Theatre.
Donna Baxter is a film buff who has taken countless American holidays touring her favourite locations, sets and cities. She writes about the history of film for a number of publications, blogs and websites.