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A guide to some of the top movies filmed in Cleveland

Michelle McQuade | October 30, 2018

Downtown Cleveland beginning to light up at dusk wtih the Cuyahoga River winding past

Cleveland, Ohio’s historic downtown streets, scenic neighborhoods, and major sporting arenas have all been used as a setting for a number of Hollywood blockbusters. Here’s a list of notable movies filmed right here in Cleveland:

“I See You“
Directed by Adam Randall (2018)

One of the most recently shot films in Chagrin Falls, “I See You” stars Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney, and Judah Lewis. Currently in the post-production phase, the film revolves around a small town detective as he handles the pressures of an investigation on the mysterious disappearance of a 12-year-old boy.

“Draft Day“
Directed by Ivan Reitman (2014)

In “Draft Day” Kevin Costner plays Sonny Weaver Jr., general manager of the Cleveland Browns. The film takes place days before one of the most important days in football: draft day. Unfortunately for Sonny, he has more to deal with other than recruiting players, like his pregnant girlfriend and a very irate team owner. When Sonny gets the opportunity to trade for the number one pick from Seattle, he gets caught in the middle of a blockbuster deal that could impact not only the team’s future, but his own.

A home in Shaker Heights was used as a filming location for the movie, and some scenes were filmed in South Park Boulevard.

“A Christmas Story“
Directed by Bob Clark (1983)

Released in November 1983, “A Christmas Story” is a heartwarming comedy based on anecdotes from the 1966 book “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” by Jean Shepherd. The film is one of the most beloved Christmas classics in North America, appearing countless times on television during the holidays.

Many scenes in the movie were filmed in locations around Cleveland, including the former Higbee’s Department Store and a 19th-century Victorian home in the Tremont neighborhood now known as “A Christmas Story House.” The house was renovated in 2004 and transformed into a replica of the original movie set, and is now a museum with original props from the movie as well as hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos.

“Spider-Man 3”
Directed by Sam Raimi (2007)

The final movie of Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man film trilogy is also the highest-grossing Spider-Man movie, netting over $890 million at the box office.

In spring 2006, the film’s location manager brought the camera crew to Cleveland after the Greater Cleveland Film Commission offered the free use of production space at the convention center. One of the prominent scenes filmed in Cleveland was the armored car battle between Spider-Man and Sandman.

“The Avengers “
Directed by Joss Whedon (2012)

“The Avengers” was a cornerstone for superhero movies, successfully uniting the storylines of some of the most iconic Marvel characters, some of which have starred in their own separate film.

The movie’s final battle might be the biggest sequence ever filmed in Cleveland. Simply watching some of the most popular Marvel superheroes duke it out in the city streets was a sight to behold. One particular scene has Captain America fighting aliens inside the Ameritrust Building, which causes explosions at East 9th Street.

“Antwone Fisher”
Directed by Denzel Washington (2002)

“Antwone Fisher” is a biological drama starring Derek Luke and Denzel Washington, who’s also the film’s director. The movie is Washington’s feature film directorial debut.

“Antwone Fisher” is based on a true story from Cleveland native Antwone Fisher’s book “Finding Fish.” It serves as a window into the life of a young man with a violent upbringing, before being recruited by the US Navy.

Many members of the community were hired as production crew members, and the filmmakers went out of their way to improve a few homes and an apartment building used for several scenes in the film.

“Air Force One”
Directed by Wolfgang Petersen (1997)

Starring Harrison Ford as US President James Marshall, “Air Force One” is a political thriller about a hijacking of Air Force One and the President’s attempt to keep everybody safe and regain control of the aircraft.

One of the scenes in the film’s opening was shot in two Cleveland locations: Severance Hall and the Cuyahoga County Courthouse.

“Take Shelter”
Directed by Jeff Nichols (2011)

Filmed in Lorain County, this psychological thriller is about a young husband and father (played by Michael Shannon) with apocalyptic visions convincing him that a catastrophic natural disaster is about to happen. Is it all in his head, or is the entire planet indeed about to suffer devastating consequences?

“Take Shelter” won several awards, including two Saturn Awards (Best Actor for Shannon and Best Writing for Nichols), and was nominated for Best Thriller Film and Best Actress for Jessica Chastain.

“Stranger Than Paradise”
Directed by Jim Jarmusch (1984)

Considered one of the most important independent films of all time, “Stranger Than Paradise” inspired most of the “mumblecore” films that became popular in the 90s and 2000s. The entirety of the film is shot in single long takes.

“Stranger Than Paradise” was showcased at the Cannes Film Festival, winning the Camera d’Or award in 1984. It also won Special Jury Prize at the 1985 Sundance Film Festival, the Golden Leopard, and the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Picture in 1985, among several others.

“American Splendor”
Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (2003)

This biographical comedy-drama is a based on the life of Harvey Pekar (played by Paul Giamatti), a Cleveland comic book author best known for his autobiographical comic series, “American Splendor.” The entire film was shot in Cleveland and the city of Lakewood.

“American Splendor” won several awards, including Best Screenplay from the Boston Society of Film Critics, Best Film and Best Screenplay from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and Grand Jury Prize from the Sundance Film Festival.

“The Deer Hunter”
Directed by Michael Cimino (1978)

Perhaps the most acclaimed film in this list is Michael Cimino’s “The Deer Hunter,” starring none other than Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, and Christopher Walken. While the film is set in Pittsburgh, its unforgettable wedding scene was filmed at the St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Church, located in the Tremont neighborhood.

Deer Hunter won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Want to know more about some of Cleveland’s most sought-after communities? Check out our community section.

To learn more about the best local property deals, call real estate expert Michelle McQuade at (440) 823 2448 or email michellemcquade(at)howardhanna(dotted)com.

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