10 Movies and TV Shows Shot in Philly
Moving to a new city can be nerve-wracking, but knowing a little more about what the city has to offer can help you navigate this transition. If you’ve decided to make Philadelphia your new home, there’s a lot waiting for you. If you’re from a big city like New York, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the more affordable cost of living in Philadelphia. One probably less glamorous but useful aspect you should familiarize yourself with is the local self-storage scene. Why? Because this service is valuable during a move and even after you have settled into your new home. To give you an idea of what the City of Brotherly Love offers in this department, know that there are approximately 70 self storage establishments in Philadelphia.
Beyond the cost of living, housing and job opportunities, a city is also defined by its culture. And what better way to familiarize yourself with it than by watching films shot locally? Philadelphia may be miles away from the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, but many famous movies have been filmed here.
Here is a list of 10 movies and TV shows to help you get to know Philadelphia:
1. Rocky (1976) and its sequels
The quintessential movie that spells Philadelphia, “Rocky” centers on the story of a working class man – Rocky – as he finds his way as a boxer. The film follows his quest for success as he challenges longtime champion Apollo Creed. The resulting internal turmoil turns into a story of perseverance that has come to define Philadelphia culture. Filming locations for “Rocky” include the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kensington (specifically 1818 East Tusculum St.), Philadelphia City Hall, and the Italian Market.
After the third installment of the “Rocky” series, a statue of the main character was erected on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. The sequels span six “Rocky” films and two “Creed” Creed films following Apollo’s son Creed, plus a recently announced third “Creed” movie.
2. Commercial Places (1983)
Trading Places is a fun watch not only because it’s comedy, but also because it depicts an intriguing story. It’s a modern take on the classic Prince and the Pauper, where a homeless man played by Eddie Murphy takes the place of a Wall Street broker played by Dan Akroyd. Various movie scenes parade through many Philadelphia venues such as the Union League, Curtis Institute, and Rittenhouse.
3. Model (1987)
With a stellar cast including Andrew McCarthy, Kim Cattrall and Estelle Getty, this film is ideal if you want to watch a romantic comedy set in Philadelphia. It’s about a window designer from the 1980s preoccupied with his job until he realizes his window displays come alive. He falls in love with the model that the world considers ordinary. As expected, complications ensue. Although the film attracts many Philadelphia locations, the most notable are John Wanamaker’s department store (Macy’s in downtown today) and the gallery at the corner of 11th and Market.
4. Sixth Sense (1999) and other M. Night Shyamalan films
Directed by prolific filmmaker and Philadelphia native M. Night Shyamalan, The Sixth Sense is his breakthrough thriller. It starred Bruce Willis, the psychiatrist who meets the troubled boy played by Haley Joel Osment. This first meeting takes place inside St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church in the Old Town.
M. Night Shyamalan’s other films also pay homage to Philly since they were filmed here. For example, “Unbreakable” features scenes filmed at the University of Pennsylvania Stadium, Immaculate Conception Church, Curtis Center and more. “Split” was filmed at the Philadelphia Zoo, Silk City Diner, and Fisherman Restaurant, among others.
5. Invincible (2006)
The 2006 film depicts the real-life story of Vince Papale, a Philadelphia native who goes from bartender to Philadelphia Eagles player. He actually played for the team from 1976 to 1978. Get ready for a touching story that goes far beyond the sports world. It shows courage, compassion, hope and aspiration – all values that are part of the Philadelphia ethos.
The film was shot in various locations in Philadelphia, with Franklin Field being iconic. This is where Papale scores a touchdown in the final scene. Pat’s King of Steaks and 1237 E. Passyunk Avenue are other locations featured in the film.
6. Law-Abiding Citizen (2009)
“Law Abiding Citizen” is a crime drama starring Jamie and Gerard Butler. It centers on one man’s quest for justice for the murder of his family. Holmesburg Jail in northeast Philadelphia served as the setting for the film’s prison scenes as well as City Hall. Interestingly enough, Michael Nutter – who was mayor at the time – has a cameo appearance in the film. Additionally, 8215 Torresdale Avenue is another Philadelphia location featured in the same production.
7. Transformers 2: Revenge of the Dead
If you haven’t seen “Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen,” you’re in for a treat: the sci-fi blockbuster has garnered praise for its visual effects and action scenes. It centers on a college student trying to save the world, aided by a group of alien robots that can transform into cars. It was filmed at various locations in Philadelphia, including the University of Pennsylvania campus, Laurel Hill Cemetery, and Delaware Power Plant.
8. Silver Linings Playbook
A film adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel and highlights the struggles of a man trying to build his life after leaving a mental institution. He ends up living with his parents and gets help from Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) with something important. Bradley Cooper, who brought this character to life, was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in this film. Philly’s Llanerch Diner is featured in the film alongside the Wells Fargo Center parking lot and the Ben’s Ballroom where the dance competition was filmed.
For a throwback to the 80s and early 90s, kick back and relax while watching “Thirthysomething”, a TV show about the characters – you guessed it! – in their thirties trying to find their way in life. The show was acclaimed and won 13 Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards over its four seasons. Lower Merion School, 301 E. Montgomery Avenue, and Ardmore are Philadelphia locations that get screen time on the show.
10. How to escape murder
Set in Philadelphia, the show follows attorney and law professor Annalize Keating (Viola Davis), who teaches at the fictional Middletown University in Philadelphia. Besides City Hall, other locations in Philadelphia are featured in some scenes, such as Philadelphia County Correctional Facility, Philadelphia Police Department, and more.
Which Philly movie is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below.