Wargames movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Wargames filmed?

1983

About Wargames

Wargames is an American techno-thriller directed by John Badham. It was written by Walter F. Parkes and Lawrence Lasker. It was initially supposed to be named 'The Genius,' inspired by notable scientists in the American community and their vision for the future. However, considering a few concepts that might be difficult to explain in a single movie, the base storyline was changed to fit a retired, dying genius and a teenage prodigy.

The technology and the ideology of remote access was a new introduction that led to the evolution of technology awareness in the early 1980s. The Wargames team capitalized on this and made a film worthy of its success.

Wargames started with the introduction of an unmanned, fully automated supercomputer to control the American Defense system in the least amount of time. The reason for this introduction was the inability of the Missile Wing Controllers to launch test missiles. The supercomputer is called WOPR (War Operation Plan Response). It learns over time and runs automated war simulations to combat each battle and war outcome.

Simultaneously, an unmotivated but genius teenage hacker, David Lightman (Mathew Broderick), hacks the school computer system remotely and changes his and his friend, Jennifer Mack (Ally Sheedy's), school grades. While war dialing random numbers in the Sunnyvale area, he comes across a system that does not identify its connection codes.

While interacting with the computer, David accesses a series of games. To access a few restricted games, he uses a backdoor password to access 'Falken's Maze,' a game designed by the artificial intelligence researcher Stephen Falken (John Wood).

Unknown to David, the random number has connected him to the WOPR system. He initiates a thermonuclear war game between America and the Soviet Union. WOPR starts a simulation that leads military personnel to believe they are under attack by the Soviet Union. WOPR triggers this response and readies all nuclear missiles since it cannot differentiate between reality and simulations.

What follows is David and Jennifer's race against time to find Falken and convince him to help with WOPR and convince the military it's just a game, not reality.

City Locations

Anderson Island, Newhalem, Whatcom County, Pierce County, Washington, Los Angeles, San Bernardino National Forest, California

Location Types

American, House, Airport, Automotive, Banks, Buildings/ Offices, Coffee, Gyms/ Sports, Miscellaneous, Police, Schools/ Colleges, Studios

Location Styles

Airstream, Americana, Bus, Classic Car, Federal Building, High Tech/ Futuristic, Office Building Style, Place, Pick Up, Parking Lot, School, Truck Style

Wargames Locations

The filming locations of Wargames were Anderson Island, Newhalem, Whatcom County, Pierce County, Washington, and Los Angeles, San Bernardino National Forest, California. All the school scenes were filmed at El Segundo High School in California, with NORAD filmed at Newhalem, Whatcom County, Washington.

Goose Island, where Dr. Falken is living under a false name and identity, is Anderson Island in Washington, which is easily accessible via ferry.

Fans will be thrilled to know that the filming location of the 7-Eleven store where David is caught by the FBI is a real-life location of the outlet at the San Bernardino National Forest. The locations of the NORAD facility and the running around that David and Jennifer undertake to stop a nuclear war are brought together beautifully by the Wargames production team.

Teaser: Fans who want to also visit other locations can consider the Boeing Field at 7149 Perimeter Road in Seattle, Washington, which was used as the Oregon airport scene, and the NORAD entrance tunnel, which is the Griffith Park Tunnel at 4730 Springs Drive, Los Angeles. Additionally, the WOPR computer scenes were filmed at Stage 27, Sony Pictures Studio in Culver City, California.

Fun fact:

Wargames was a box office success with production costs at $12 million and a global collection of $125 million.

David makes a phone call to the operator scene in Wargames

Phone booth, 38698 Arlington-Darrington Road, WA

David gets off at a payphone after hitching a ride in a red truck. He enters the phone booth, but the phone doesn't work. David comes out of the booth, finds a soda can opener tab, and uses it to get the payphone working again.

He connects to the operator and asks, "Goose Island, Oregon, please. The number for Dr. Robert Hume on Tall Cedar Road." The operator replies, "Checking under Dr. Robert Hume on Tall Cedar Road. I find no listing." David asks her, "What does that mean? He doesn't have a phone?" She replies, "I'm sorry. I don't have a listing." David again asks her to check, "Dr. Falken. Stephen Falken at the same address." The operator replies, "I find no listing for Dr. Stephen Falken on Tall Cedar Road." Hearing this, David says, "Thank you," and hangs up the phone very dejectedly.

While this is not a fantastic shot, this Wargames filming location is a phone booth at 38698 Arlington-Darrington Road, Washington. Fans of the movie can pretend to make a phone call while hiding their mobile phones! The phone booth is accessible by catching bus number 230, hopping off at the Hwy 530 & Swede Heaven Rd stop, and walking for a minute to reach.

John suggests having an unmanned and automated system scene in Wargames

Newhalem, Whatcom County, WA

Captain Jerry Lawson (John Spencer) and Lieutenant Steve Phelps (Michael Madsen) failed to launch nuclear missiles during a training exercise. The NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) Headquarters officials have an emergency meeting to discuss what went wrong with the exercise. This failure to launch convinces the Head of Systems Engineering at NORAD, Dr. John McKittrick (Dabney Coleman), that there is an urgent need for an automated response sequence.

John tells Lyle Watson (Dennis Lipscomb) and Arthur Cabot (Kent Williams), "Those men in the silos know what it means to turn the keys and some of them are just not up to it. Now, it's as simple as that! I think we ought to take the men out of the loop." Suddenly there's an uproar, and everyone in the meeting wants a clarification. John explains why it's essential to not have missiles dormant in the silos because the men would not turn the keys to launch them.

Of the many Wargames locations, the NORAD Headquarters was a set built at Newhalem, Whatcom County, in Washington. Fans wishing to view the area should catch State Rte 20 Eastwards till they reach Newhalem. Newhalem is relatively small and is an unincorporated community along the foothills of the North Cascades. It is incredibly picturesque, and fans of Wargames will enjoy the trip.

David fails his test scene in Wargames

El Segundo High School, 640 Main St, El Segundo, CA

David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) enters class late, and his teacher, Mr. Ligget (Alan Blumenfield), catches him sneaking in. Mr. Ligget is going over the test questions and results with the class. Mr. Ligget says, "David! Nice of you to join us. I have a little present for you," and hands David a test report with an 'F' grade.

He then asks Jennifer Mack (Ally Sheedy), who is giggling with her friend, "Miss Mack, tell us your answer to question four. Why do nitrogen nodules cling to the roots of plants?" Jennifer replies, "Umm… love?" Hearing her response, the entire class bursts into laughter. Mr. Ligget asks her, "Jennifer, what do you know about nitrogen nodules that we don't? Some bit of salacious info to which we are not privy?"

For the film shoot location of Snohomish High School, the Wargames production team chose El Segundo High School at 640 Main Street, El Segundo, Los Angeles County, California. While the school is now open for students, visitors can only view it from the outside. To get to the school, catch the 109 southbound to the Main St/ Oak Ave stop, and walk for a minute.

David changes the grades scene in Wargames

333 Arden Boulevard, Hancock Park, Los Angeles, CA

Jennifer gives David a ride home. David shows Jennifer how he can change the test scores. He hacks into the school mainframe network and opens up his grades. David tells Jennifer, "I don't think I deserved an F. Do you?" and changes his test result from an F to a C. He then tells Jennifer that he can change her test result score from a failed grade to a pass one.

Jennifer is shocked but excited. David asks Jennifer, "Do you have a middle initial?" She replies, "K. Katherine." As David puts in her name and the codes, her grades appear on the screen. David changes her biology grade from an F to a C. Jennifer sees this and says, "You'll get me in trouble. Change it back! I said, change it back!" David realizes she's getting upset and says, "OK, OK," and re-enters her failing grade. She sees it changed and leaves, saying, "I guess I better get going."

All the funny scenes in Wargames occur at David Lightman's house. The house is a private property located at 333 Arden Boulevard, Hancock Park, Los Angeles, so visitors will need the permission of the owners to click pictures. The walk to the house is a couple of minutes if you catch bus number 14 and hop off at Beverly/ Rossmore.

David gets arrested by the FBI scene in Wargames

41440 Big Bear Boulevard, Big Bear Lake, San Bernardino National Forest, CA

After the fiasco with David feeding the NORAD computer a set of codes that makes it start a war-like game scenario, the FBI is on David's trail. They finally corner him at a 7-Eleven in his town. As he walks out of the 7-Eleven, he realizes people with earphones and microphones are following him. David turns around but is cornered. While he is walking out of the parking lot, a blue minivan stops in front of him, and a formally dressed gentleman steps out.

The man holds up a badge that reads 'FBI' and says, "David Lightman, hold it right there. FBI." Another officer walks up to David, saying, "I'll read you your rights." David keeps asking, "What happened? What did I do?"

This Wargames film scene was shot at an actual 7-Eleven Convenience Store at Big Bear Boulevard near Big Bear Lake in the San Bernardino National Forest in California. The production team wanted to keep it as original as possible and chose this 7-Eleven for its filming location. Getting here is straightforward if you catch the number 5 bus to Big Bear Blvd & Alden Rd – Sandy's Sports Bar/ Verizon Store stop. The 7-Eleven is a 10 – 12-minute walk from here.

David and Jennifer track down Falken at Goose Island scene in Wargames

Anderson Island, Pierce County, WA

David and Jennifer track Dr. Falken down at remote Goose Island. Dr. Falken lives off the grid because of his experience with NORAD and the government concerning his automated computer machine, JOSHUA. NORAD has updated the system and is now calling it WOPR. However, it is running machine-learning software and launching a series of war games identical to real-life nuclear assaults.

David tells Dr. Falken, "If JOSHUA tricks them into launching an attack, it'll be your fault." Dr. Falken exclaims, "My fault?! The whole point was to find a way to practice nuclear war without destroying ourselves. To get the computers to learn from mistakes we couldn't afford to make. Except, I could never get JOSHUA to learn the most important lesson – futility. That there's a time when you should just give up." Jennifer asks Falken, "What kind of a lesson is that?"

This sequence is one of the best scenes in Wargames. The filming location of Goose Island is Anderson Island in Pierce County, Washington. The island is picturesque, and visitors can plan a day trip and return by evening. Getting to Anderson Island is a bit of an adventure. Visitors need to catch the ferry from Steilacoom to Anderson Island and continue Yoman Rd.

Conclusion

Wargames was a movie far ahead of its time. Most people today believe it was a precursor to machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence. The Wargames action scenes, nuclear launch sequences, excellently chosen locations, and the acting gave audiences a glimpse of the future.

Considering the technology's superiority, the information about computers, and the quick plot twists, this movie was an absolute hit. The actors did a fabulous job portraying the situation's urgency, the bureaucracy prevalent in modern society even today, and the consequences of unmanned control.

The concepts of JOSHUA and WOPR (War Operation Plan Response), the creator Dr. Falken living in obscurity under a false identity, and the simulations leading to all-out nuclear war between the US and the Soviet nation were a stunning take on the fragility of human life and the importance of balance in today's evolving world.