Seeing Stars: San Diego in the Movies

Anchorman - Panda Watch
Anchor Man - Movies Filmed in San Diego

Anchorman – Just one of the movies filmed in San Diego

As everyone’s eyes are on Hollywood this weekend for the Academy Awards, why not live the movies you love and explore some of San Diego’s famous locales. Everyone knows that Ron Burgundy calls San Diego his home, but the Anchorman isn’t the only famous face to film in San Diego:


Years before he was jumping on Oprah Winfrey’s white couch, Tom Cruise and his Hollywood good looks made movie history as Lieutenant Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in the 1986 action-packed classic, Top Gun (1986). Inspired by a magazine article that highlighted the TOPGUN fighter pilots at the Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego, the self-nicknamed “Fightertown USA,” movie producers were intrigued by the fast-paced Navy pilot lifestyle in a laid-back Southern California beach town and set up shop in San Diego to film the blockbuster hit.

Hotel del Coronado

Since 1888, the Hotel del Coronado has attracted numerous world dignitaries, Hollywood stars and the discriminating affluent with its unique red peaked roofs, stunning Victorian architecture and serene ocean vistas. But perhaps is most important role was its casting as the backdrop for the wildly popular film, Some Like it Hot (1959), featuring Marilyn Monroe,Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the United Sates with 15 museums, a Tony-award winning theatre, numerous gardens and much more. It has been nicknamed “The Smithsonian of the West” but it may be better known for its appearances in a number of movies, including Citizen Cane (1941), where the Spanish Colonial buildings served as Charles Kane’s (Orson Welles) mansion “Xanadu,” the appearance of the Museum of Man’s California Bell Tower in the film Almost Famous (2000), and the historic Organ Pavilion that was used to stage an explosion during the film Top Dog (1995), starring Chuck Norris.

Downtown San Diego

Downtown San Diego is ever evolving as new hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and retail shops open each year. A perfect location for shopping and dining by day, and the “hottest” destination by night. Who knew the downtown area would live up to its reputation when a controlled car explosion stunt took place in the middle of the downtown streets during the filming of Traffic (2000) starring Catherine Zeta Jones, Michael Douglas, and Benicio Del Toro; public safety agencies were present to make sure nothing got out of hand.

San Diego’s East County

In San Diego’s East County, a rugged landscape surrounds historic highways and provides scenic backdrops for colorful desert wildflowers and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities, but the deserted area has also starred in a handful of films. East County’s beautiful Anza-Borrego Desert State Park was featured in Into The Wild (2007) during a scene that took place while Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch) road tripped to Alaska. Borrego Springs doubled as Mesopotamia 3000 B.C. in the Scorpion King (2007) and was also where the popular Sci-Fi TV series, The X-Files, came to an end during the filming of the series finale at the recreated Anazazi Village.

Ocean Beach

With perpetual sun, swaying palms and sparkling surf, the funky neighborhood of Ocean Beach, is the epitome of Southern California beach culture. Producers of Almost Famous (2000) thought this beach town’s 1970s hippie attitude was the perfect location to film. Many locals wore their normal clothes and used their own vehicles as extras in the movie.

Don’t forget: Anchorman 2 hits movie theaters later this year! Stay classy, San Diego.


Sun, Surf and the Silver Screen: San Diego Film Festival 2012

San Diego Film Festival Logo

San Diego Film Festival Logo

From September 26-30th the San Diego Film Festival (SDFF) celebrates 11 years with more films, insightful industry panels and buzz-worthy events than ever before. While SDFF continues to screen films at the Reading Cinemas Gaslamp in the Gaslamp Quarter, as it has for the past 10 years, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego – La Jolla will also host numerous screenings and events. The dual locations allow SDFF to provide more opportunities to celebrate a wide spectrum of independent film while showcasing two of San Diego’s most popular and distinctive neighborhoods. If you can swing it, splurge on the VIP Festival Pass and enjoy the festival as it was meant to be – a celebration of creativity and community. Otherwise, here are a few signature events not to be missed:

Thursday, September 27: Gus Van Sant Tribute Evening

Get an exclusive glimpse into the passion and vision behind the extraordinary filmmaking of director Gus Van Sant and enjoy the 15th anniversary screening of the Academy® Award winning film, Good Will Hunting this Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 7:00 PM at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. Tickets are $75.

> Buy Gus Van Sant Tribute Evening tickets here

Friday, September 28: Almost Famous Block Party & Screening:

Have you ever wanted to party in San Diego like it’s 1973? Here’s your chance! The “must-attend” party of the festival will be happening this Friday, September 28th in the Gaslamp Quarter. Along with the special outdoor screening of Almost Famous, introduced by the real Pennie Lane in her first public appearance, enjoy hosted bar from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, light fare provided by Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Crossroads/House of Blues, DJ, dancing, and live music by Queen Nation presented by the House of Blues. Tickets are $45 in advance and $60 at the door.

> Buy Almost Famous Block Party and Screening tickets here

2012 San Diego Film Festival Line-Up

And let’s not forget about the films! Check out the line-up of amazing independent films screening this weekend right here in San Diego.