Where are the most popular movie locations around the world?

Choosing a location to shoot your movie is one of the most important decisions made by production companies. Some companies choose to rent a filming location, as the perfect setting can enhance the look and feel of the film while others choose to film on soundstages, to have complete control of their production.

But which are the most in-demand movie locations around the world? We’ve delved into the data to find some of the most sought after settings according to the number of movies that have chosen to shoot there and the most popular countries, continents and US state too.

1. Central Park - New York, USA

Number of movies: 352

Taking the top spot, Central park has featured in films as far back as 1908! With silver screen classics like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and more modern movies including The Avengers all shooting scenes in this iconic landscape, it's no surprise Central Park tops our list with 352 movies.

2. Bronson Canyon - California, USA

Number of movies: 236

In second place, Bronson Canyon is a popular location for science fiction and western movies, thanks to its craggy and pockmarked appearance. This makes it the perfect setting for scenes taking place in a southwestern desert, or barren alien landscapes and has been featured in the classic movies The Lone Ranger and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The former quarry has been the backdrop for scenes in 236 feature films.

3. Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park - California, USA

Number of movies: 207

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park is the second Los Angeles location on or list and the second park too. The park has featured in 207 films over the years, being a popular backdrop thanks to its proximity to Hollywood. Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park has featured in three Star Trek films, among others, as a result of its extraterrestrial appearance.

Los Angeles    |    New York    |    Atlanta

The locations making the most cash

Now we know the most popular film locations, but of the top 10 which of them is the most profitable?

We’ve taken the average box office earnings for the top three most popular films that use these locations to find out which rake in the most cash on average.

1. Griffith Observatory

Average box office gross of top three movies: $253,366,667

This Los Angeles landmark takes the top spot on our list of the highest-grossing locations, featuring in iconic films from cinema’s golden age to more modern films and has an average box office gross of over $253 million for the top movies shooting here. Outside of its use as a location, the observatory serves to educate visitors about astronomy by holding exhibitions.    

2. Old Royal Naval College

Average box office gross of top three movies: $249,840,000

Coming second, this London location is a world heritage site and one of the UK’s most sought after film locations. Originally built in the 1600s its grounds have been used for period blockbusters such as Les Miserables and Pirates of the Caribbean and the top movies using this location can boast an average box office gross of just under $250 million dollars.  

3. Niagara Falls

Average box office gross of top three movies: $212,260,000

Next up is this awe-inspiring waterfall, spanning the border of the US and Canada. Although already renowned as a beauty spot, the waterfalls soared in popularity after the release of Niagara, starring Marilyn Monroe in 1953. Since then it has featured in comedy classics such as Bruce Almighty and the top movies featuring Niagra Falls have an average box office gross of $212 million.  

1. The United States

Number of movies: 1,123

With Hollywood being home to some of the biggest film studios in the world and producing most of our favorite movies, it's not surprising the US has the most locations featured in films. A whopping 1,123 of the movies we looked at have used US locations, which is just over six times that of second place.  

2. The United Kingdom

Number of movies: 187

Taking second place, the UK locations on our list featured in 187 movies, the most popular being Trafalgar Square and the Old Royal Naval College, in its capital London. The UK has a rich variety of locations, offering directors whatever setting or landscape they need to achieve their perfect scene. Like Canada, the UK government also offers lucrative tax incentives for filmmakers, often refunding up to a quarter of the film budget spent in the UK.

3. Canada

Number of movies: 143

Locations in Canada are often used as a substitute for American landscapes, as it is often much cheaper to shoot scenes in The Great White North as well as many Canadian cities being perfect stand-ins for American ones thanks to their similar urban landscapes. This explains its third-place ranking with 143 movies using Canadian locations.    

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1. New York

Number of movies: 381

Taking first place is New York State, with a total of 381 movies featuring its locations. This includes key landmarks in New York City such as Central Park and The New York Public Library. It also includes locations made famous by movies too, such as Katz’s Delicatessen, which became a landmark in its own right after it was featured in the classic rom-com When Harry Met Sally.      

2. Arizona

Number of movies: 91

In second place The state of Arizona features in 91 films, all of which use Monument Valley as a location. Thanks to its varied geography, Arizona is an ideal place to film, especially its  southern desert, which many filmmakers consider the perfect place for making westerns.  

3. Massachusetts

Number of movies: 25  

Coming in third is Massachusetts with 25 films using it as a location. All of these movies filmed scenes on Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the South coast. The most famous of these films Jaws helped put this tiny island on the map as a tourist destination.  

1. North America

Number of movies: 1,354

It’s no surprise that North America takes the top spot for the continent featured in most movies being the home of one of the world’s largest film industries, Hollywood.  

2. Europe

Number of movies: 946

Taking second place, the European locations on our list feature in 2,182 films. Directors choose to shoot in European locations thanks to their cost-efficiency, with many governments offering funding for productions. The cost of living is often cheaper in some European countries too, making it cheaper to shoot with local crews.

3. Asia

Number of movies: 239

In third place, Asia has 239 movies on IMDb featuring its locations. Asian countries have a thriving film industries, like Bollywood, which uses locations close to its center, Mumbai to minimize costs. Asian film locations, such as Angkor Wat in Cambodia are often rich in history, which lends movies a more authentic feel than those shot on a soundstage.  

Methodology

Beginning with lists of the most popular movie locations we recorded the number of feature films which used these locations according to IMDB’s Advanced Title Search. These locations were then split by country, continent and US state.

Average box office figures for locations were calculated by taking an average gross income of the top three most popular that used the location from IMDB.