Where was News of the World filmed?
Santa Fe, New Mexico, and surrounds
American, NatureScapes, Ranch, Studios
Desert, Ranch Style
About News of the World
The year is 1870, five years after the end of the Civil War. Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (Tom Hanks), a former Confederate officer, travels through the harsh terrain of northern Texas reading the latest world news to captivated audiences in every town he visits.
But when he comes across an overturned wagon, a lynched black driver, and a scared 10-year-old white girl in his travels, Kidd’s life will never be the same. The girl goes by the name of Cicada, but Kidd soon discovers that she’s actually Johanna Leonberger (Helena Zengel), who had been kidnapped by the Kiowa tribe some six years earlier.
She’s being transported to her aunt and uncle, her only remaining family, but is going against her will. Having been raised by the Kiowa, the girl has been ripped away from the only life she’s ever known.
Kidd eventually agrees to take on the job of getting the young girl safely to her new home. But an arduous journey of around 400 miles lies ahead, and the two travelers encounter danger everywhere they go. They must overcome traffickers intent on purchasing Johanna for nefarious purposes, racist militias looking to kill all non-white people, swirling dust storms, and the many hazards of life in the untamed wilderness.
And along the way, they form a bond so strong it’ll never be broken.
Directed by Paul Greengrass, News of the World is a memorable Western that lets Tom Hanks show off his well-documented skills and Helena Zengel turn in a show-stopping performance. The other star is the harsh desert landscape our two protagonists must navigate their way through. And despite the fact that the film is set in Texas, it was mostly shot somewhere else entirely — as you’ll find out below.
We’ve gathered together the location details from where some of the best scenes in News of the World were filmed, so avert your eyes if you don’t want any spoilers. But if you’re ready to leap into the action, let’s find out where News of the World was filmed and how you can check out some of the movie’s most memorable locations for yourself.
News of the World Locations
When the crew of News of the World needed to re-create the harsh Texas landscape, they looked to the neighboring state of New Mexico. With New Mexico boasting plenty of wide open spaces and terrain that practically screams “wild west”, it was a natural choice as the filming location of News of the World.
Santa Fe was the base for the majority of filming, with a host of key scenes shot at the Bonanza Creek Ranch. Located roughly 20 miles southwest of downtown Santa Fe, the ranch boasts a variety of sets including one designed to mimic the look of an old Western town. Bonanza Creek Ranch has featured in films ranging from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, and was also the location of the tragic accidental shooting involving Alec Baldwin on the set of Rust in 2021.
Several other News of the World filming locations can be found in and around Santa Fe. These include El Rancho de Las Golondrinas, the site of Johanna’s aunt and uncle’s cabin, and a 200-year-old home in Santa Fe known as El Zaguán was used as Kidd’s home.
So if you want to visit News of the World locations in Santa Fe, check out where the six memorable scenes below were filmed.
News of the World is based on a 2016 novel by author Paulette Jiles.
Kidd and Johanna arrive at Red River Station scene in News of the World
Bonanza Creek Ranch
After finding Johanna and being ordered to take her to Red River Station, Kidd leads the girl through the inhospitable landscape. “Tomorrow we’ll find someone to take you home”, Kidd says as they camp for the night, but Johanna remains distant and aloof.
Following a journey through the imposing Red River Valley, Kidd and Johanna finally arrive at the station — and they’re confronted with chaos. Herds of cattle and heavily loaded wagons jam the street. The river crossing is closed and the atmosphere is almost at boiling point.
Kidd heads for the military command post in search of the Indian Agent, but all he finds is an unsympathetic duty officer: “We got lost folks all over. Folks trying to find folks. Folks trying not to get found. So why don’t you wait for the agent, or take her yourself.”
Bonanza Creek Ranch was used as the setting for Red River — you can find it on Bonanza Creek Road near the CanAm Highway, roughly half an hour’s drive from Santa Fe — and the director relied heavily on CGI to add thousands of cattle and the feeling of a busy town to the scene.
Kidd and Johanna arrive in Dallas scene in News of the World
Bonanza Creek Ranch
After an arduous journey, Kidd and Johanna arrive in the booming city of Dallas. There we learn a whole lot more about Johanna’s backstory, while we also learn that Kidd is dealing with his own demons from the war.
But it’s Kidd’s encounter with a sinister man known as Almay that is the most memorable experience of their stay in Dallas. Almay has his eyes on Johanna, and makes it clear he wants to buy her from Kidd.
After all, traveling the southern roads is a very dangerous pastime: “No place for an old man and a child”, he says, his words dripping with menace. Kidd of course rejects Almay’s offer, but Almay is desperate to get his hands on the girl and sets off in pursuit of Kidd and Johanna across the harsh Texas landscape.
Like the Red River Station scenes above, the shots of ‘Dallas’ were also filmed at Bonanza Creek Ranch. The ranch was even used as Wichita Falls in the film, so it’s clearly quite a versatile filming location.
Kidd starts a riot scene in News of the World
Eaves Movie Ranch
As the two travelers continue their journey through the immense landscape, they’re stopped at gunpoint by a heavily armed militia. The men are led by a man named Farley, who is keen to rid the county of any non-white outsiders, and Farley decides he can use Kidd to his advantage.
Farley wants Kidd to read Farley’s own pre-approved version of the news, but Kidd has other ideas. Once he learns that most of the locals work “sun up to sun down” in cruel conditions for Farley, he decides to share the story of a group of Pennsylvania coal miners who rise up against their cruel boss.
“Well I’ll tell ya, those men refused defeat. In the dark they kept their heads. Worked together. Fought back against the odds. For better lives. And for freedom.” Before you know it, Kidd has worked the audience up to a fever pitch and scuffles start breaking out between Farley’s men and the people of the town, allowing Kidd and Johanna to escape.
This scene was filmed at Eaves Movie Ranch, which is found about 20 miles southwest of Santa Fe on Rancho Alegre Road. Scenes from Wyatt Earp, The Legend of the Lone Ranger, and a host of other famous productions have also been filmed at the ranch, so it’s a spot well worth visiting.
Kidd returns home to San Antonio scene in News of the World
Having completed his mission and delivered a reluctant Johanna to her aunt and uncle, Kidd rides off into the sunset and returns to San Antonio. But it’s clear that his journey with Johanna has changed him completely, and there’s now a huge hole in his life where she once was.
And following his wife’s death from cholera, Kidd’s return home is particularly painful. He waits outside the door for a moment, building up the courage to go in, and then wanders around their empty, lifeless home. There’s nothing there now for Kidd except memories, and the pain is etched in his face as he realizes what his life has become.
Kidd’s ‘San Antonio’ home is actually a historic house on Canyon Road, less than a mile from the center of Santa Fe. Known as El Zaguán, the house features a Spanish Pueblo style roof and was purchased by a Santa Fe trail merchant in the 1850s. Today, it’s home to the office of the Historic Santa Fe Foundation.
Kidd learns the truth about his wife’s death scene in News of the World
Felipe B. Delgado House
Following the sad scene at his home, there are more painful truths to come for Kidd. He heads to the center of town and enters Branholme’s law office, where his old friend is shocked to see him. Kidd fled in despair following his wife Marie’s death, and the pain is still raw all this time later.
Branholme explains where Marie is buried, and that she died of cholera. There was nothing he could have done, but Kidd is clearly battling with a lot of inner turmoil. “That wasn’t sickness. It was judgement. For what I’d seen and what I’d done. I saw her cold in the bed and I knew. God’s curse on me had killed her. So I left her and ran.” But Branholme is having none of it, and has some words of kindness for his friend before encouraging Kidd to visit his wife’s grave.
Branholme’s office is better known in the real world as Felipe B. Delgado House. Built in 1890 by the merchant after which it was named, this adobe-style home is found at 124 West Palace Avenue in the heart of Santa Fe.
Kidd comes back for Johanna scene in News of the World
El Rancho de las Golondrinas
Kidd feels like he’s betrayed Johanna. Not only is he desperately lonely, he knows leaving her behind was the wrong thing to do and he can offer her the sort of happy life she deserves.
He returns to the Leonberger farm and is shocked to find Johanna tied to a post and forced to work. Kidd frees her and then makes a heartfelt promise. “You belong with me”, he says in Kiowa, then in English: “I’ll look after you. As long as you need, I’ll look after you.”
For what seems like the longest of moments, Johanna weighs up in her mind whether she can trust Kidd. She eventually decides that she can, and the tears start to flow as the young girl and her father figure embrace. It’s without doubt one of the best scenes from News of the World and the happy ending we’re all hoping for.
This touching scene was shot at El Rancho de las Golondrinas, a historic ranch and now a living history museum. Located on Los Pinos Road, a little over 15 miles southwest of downtown Santa Fe, the log cabin used as the Leonberger home was once used as a schoolhouse. It sits in a wooded valley that, though pretty, is also perfect for creating a scene that reflects the reality of early settlers living a hard life on the farm.
There really is a lot to like about this family-friendly Western. Hanks is excellent in the starring role — when isn’t he? — and Helena Zengel gives a polished performance and looks every bit a star in the making.
Zengel picked up nominations for Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, while News of the World received Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Production Design, among others. Take one look at the expansive wild west landscape, or the spectacularly re-created early settlements, and it quickly becomes clear that this is a film that offers plenty of visual beauty.
And with a host of other well-known TV shows and movies filmed in and around Santa Fe, from Cowboys and Aliens to Longmire, it’s well worth checking out the best News of the World locations on a New Mexico road trip.