Special Report

The Best Movie Filmed in Your State

More than 100 years ago, the motion-picture industry decamped to California from the East Coast to work in better weather, escape the monopoly imposed by Thomas Edison, and film at  lower production costs. While the industry has certainly flourished there, however, filmmakers have shot scenes in every state in the union to provide authenticity to their work. (Maybe some of them are seduced by the most beautiful natural wonder in every state.)

Despite the ever-increasing sophistication of computer-generated imagery, there is no substitute for the real thing. That’s why movie makers have gone to Monument Valley on the border of Arizona and Nevada to film such classics as “Once Upon a Time in the West,” or why Steven Spielberg chose the foreboding Devils Tower in Wyoming as the focus of the sci-fi adventure “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” (He also filmed in Alabama.) 

The grittiness of the longshoreman’s life in “On the Waterfront” was captured on the real Hoboken docks. The actual Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was the backdrop for one of the most unforgettable scenes in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” (These are the greatest movie heroes of all time.)

To determine the best movie filmed in every state, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of March 2022. All ratings were weighted equally. 

Only movies with at least 25,000 audience votes on IMDb were considered, and only films that were primarily filmed within a given state – based on the number of filming locations within a state as a percentage of all cataloged filming locations on IMDb – were considered for that state. The only exception to this rule is North Dakota, which was not the primary filming state for any film that meets our criteria, but rather was the secondary filming location for “Fargo.”  

Click here to see the best movie filmed in your state

The movie industry’s quest for authenticity has not been lost on states, which see the opportunity for financial reward and job creation. In February 2022,  Arizona’s state senate voted to create up to $150 million in state tax credits to lure movie and television producers to the state. Florida’s film incentive program expired six years ago, but two bills have been introduced in the Sunshine State earlier this year that could renew rebates for film companies to shift their work there. As for financial impact, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment said in 2019 that the creative industries had accounted for more than 500,000 jobs and had an economic impact of $150 billion.

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