With its diverse landscapes, evocative cities and towns and space-age technology, Alabama has a long history of hosting filmmakers. But, in 2018 the state introduced a dedicated film incentive programme which put the state in the industry spotlight. Since then, hundreds of crews have set up camp in the state, from Hollywood blockbusters to independent art house films. Here are some of the most famous movies filmed in Alabama.
1. Big Fish (2003)
Best locations: Wetumpka, Prattville, Dicksonia Plantation in Lowndesboro
Tim Burton’s Big Fish was filmed entirely in Alabama, besides a brief scene in Paris. The whimsical movie tells the story of William Bloom and his struggle to separate fact from fiction in his dying father’s fantastical tales.
Set in the fictitious town of ‘Ashton’, shooting chiefly took place in downtown Wetumpka. You can actually visit the grand Victorian house where Ed and his elderly wife live on Bridge Street. Other movie locations also include Jackson Lake Park in Prattville and the Witch’s House on the Dicksonia Plantation in Lowndesboro.
2. Just Mercy (2019)
Best locations: Montgommery, particularly Perry Street and Dexter Avenue
Starring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx and and Brie Lawson, this blockbuster follows the story of world-renowned civil right defense attorney, Bryan Stevenson.
Some of the most prominent shooting locations include Perry Street and Dexter Avenue. Set design, costumers and vehicles helped recreate the 1980s setting. Producers generally shot in real locations to shed light on how rampant the issues of slavery and racism were during that time.
3. The Devil All the Time (2020)
Best locations: The Peerless, Anniston
Set in rural West Virginia and Ohio, The Devil All the Time follows several different characters from the end of World War II to the 1960s. Bill Skarsgård plays Willard Russell, a tormented veteran; Jason Clarke and Riley Keough play husband-and-wife team of serial killers and Robert Pattinson plays a preacher.
Most of the movie is filmed in Alabama in Anniston, Jacksonville, Helena, Riverside and Birmingham. While the movie is set in the 1960s, the only things that needed to be added to the set were antique cars. It’s also worth a trip to The Peerless if you’re in town and a fan of the movie. Three separate scenes take place at the location, which is also the oldest bar in Alabama.
4. Norma Ray (1979)
Best locations: Opelika Manufacturing Corp, Golden Cheery Motel, Garrett’s Oyster Bar Restaurant, the Cherry Bowl Restaurant
This heartwarming tale is about a young single mother and textile worker who agrees to help unionize her mill, despite the dangers involved. Now a cult classic, Sally Field won an academy award for her performance. The movie was filmed in and around Opelika, with most of the mill scenes filmed at the Opelika Manufacturing Corp.
Other movie locations include the 1940s Golden Cherry Motel, as well as Garrett’s Oyster Bar Restaurant and the Cherry Bowl Restaurant.
5. Get Out (2017)
Best locations: Fairhope, Barton Academy, Ashland Place Historic District
The low-budget thriller Get Out defied all the odds and garned numerous oscar nominations and a win for Best Original Screenplay. It follows Chris Washington, a young black man, who discovers a disturbing secret when he meets the family of his white girlfirend, Rose Armitage.
The action chiefly takes place in one house, which is on Heathcroft Lane in Fairhope. Other locations include Ryan Avenue in the Park Place District, Barton Academy and in the Ashland Place Historic District.
6. Selma (2019)
Best locations: Edmund Pettus Bridge and the Alabama State Capitol Building
Based on the true story of how Dr Martin Luther King Jr changed history, Selma was filmed on a tight 32 days schedule. Just four of those were spent in Alabama, but they formed some of the film’s most iconic scenes.
The Edmund Pettus Bridge and downtown business district provided the backdrop for the pivotal protest at the end of the movie. Helpfully, the area still looks much the same as it did in 1965. The second march takes place in Montgomery, specifically on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol Building on Dexter Avenue.
7. USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage (2016)
Best locations: USS Alabama, Battleship Park, Saenger Theater, Orange Beach
This harrowing story of the USS Indianapolis crew who were stranded in the Philippine Sea for dive days is one of the most famous movies filmed in Alabama. It stars Nicholas Cage and Tom Sizemore. Almost all of the $40 million movie was filmed in Alabama. Indeed, much of the movie takes place aboard the USS Alabama, the battleship museum docked in Mobile.
Other notable locations include the Battle House Hotel, Battleship Park, Mobile Country Courthouse, as well as on Orange Beach, where a World War II-era vintage amphibious seaplane famously beached during filming.