Most movies today are chock-full of special effects and rely heavily on CGI to create the action and locations depicted in the story. While this is, of course, a requirement for films like the Sharknado franchise or any superhero-based flick, using the green screen is still par-for-course for most movies.
Whether used just to make a sunset look more striking, or to create the most over-the-top car chase scene or intergalactic war, special effects can have a huge impact.
However, the setting for a film is also an incredibly important part of its production. Though there are numerous challenges involved with filming on location, the atmosphere, scenery, culture, and other geographic wonders of many destinations usually make it worth the additional costs, time, and effort involved for movie studios.
For decades, productions have been filmed in stunning locations all around the world. From the United Kingdom and Europe, to Hawaii, the South Pacific, Asia, South America, and more, there are numerous destinations that have caught the public attention due to the cinema. But do these places really look so great in real life, or is it just down to CGI?
If you've been inspired to take a trip and see new sights because of a movie, you might be a little worried that what you find when you arrive looks nothing like it does on film. Rest assured though, lots of destinations are as stunning as they seem on the screen. Read on for a taste of just some of the most popular movie locations used over the years that are worth checking out.
One of the destinations that pops up in many famous movies is Hawaii. The islands of this stunning location are close enough to Hollywood to make production easy enough, but still provide all the beaches, rain forests, and mountain vistas that help to create movie magic.
If you're a fan of the Jurassic Park franchise, you might already know that the original 1993 film was created on Hawaii, utilizing the islands of Maui, Oahu, and Kauai to set the scene for the thriller. The brand-new movie in the series, "Jurassic World," also features some shots of the Hawaiian islands.
Another popular series partly filmed on location in this tropical part of the world is The Hunger Games. The 2013 sequel, Catching Fire, was set amongst locations such as the Waimea Valley jungles, the Manoa Valley Trail System, and Kawela Bay. As well, the Indiana Jones franchise took advantage of the many delights of Hawaii, with the 1981 classic Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark shot partially on Kauai.
When it comes to romance and comedies, Hawaii has also been a common setting. The classic picture from 1953, From Here to Eternity, was filmed around Oahu, and the island's Halona Beach Cove gained notoriety for being the setting for the passionate scene between two of the movie's characters, played by Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr.
More recently, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore paired up for a second romantic comedy (their first being The Wedding Singer) and filmed the 2004 flick 50 First Dates around a variety of locations on Oahu, including Kualoa Ranch, Sea Life Park and Waimanalo Beach.
Many films are also made in the United Kingdom each year. If you're excited to see the new Mission Impossible film, Rogue Nation (the fifth in the franchise), look out for the many London settings that the action is played against, such as the Thames, the Tower of London, and Piccadilly Circus. Star Tom Cruise even recently called the movie a "love letter to London."
The upcoming film in the James Bond franchise, Spectre, also has many scenes shot in the capital city. Indeed, filming caused London to come to a standstill many times as production took place in and around Notting Hill, Camden, London City Hall, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the Thames, and the Millennium Bridge.
Another region of the world that sees many film productions shot on site is Europe. From France and Italy, to Greece, Spain, the Vatican City, Vienna, and more, many memorable movies feature a European nation in the background.
For example, Woody Allen has left his beloved New York City multiple times in favor of Europe's charms. His Academy Award-winning movies Midnight in Paris and Vicky Cristina Barcelona were shot in France and Spain respectively, and featured plenty of shots of the pretty streets of Paris and the Catalonian architecture in Barcelona.
Before Sunrise, a cult classic romantic drama from the 1990s that spurned a recently wrapped trilogy, also prompted many travelers to make their way to Europe. The Before Sunrise film was largely set in the stunning city of Vienna, while the sequel, Before Sunset (2004) was set in Paris and the third film, Before Midnight (2013), was made in Greece.
Another popular film that took advantage of the dramatic coastlines around Greece was the 2008 musical Mamma Mia! The Movie. The film showed off the pretty island of Skopelos, the cliffs above Glisteri Beach, and the hamlet of Damouchari, amongst other picturesque settings.
It's amazing that some locations are so stunning, it's hard to tell if they're real or CGI. Keep your eyes peeled the next time you watch a movie that takes place in a beautiful setting and ask yourself: "Is this green screen or the real thing?"