Jacksonville: Setting the scene of ten films

By Justin Belichis

Before Hollywood became the world’s blockbuster capital of the world, the American film industry set its anchor down in Jacksonville during the early 20th century.

Those early movies were filmed almost entirely on the streets of the city, often using actual residents as extras. But as the “talkies” took over, the silent filmmaking of Jacksonville’s studios became a thing of the past.

Although Jacksonville’s film studios have long since disappeared, the city itself has appeared in other movies throughout the years. Numerous films and television shows have used buildings, landscapes, quaint neighborhood streets and parks on the First Coast to paint the picture of a film’s reality.

Here are ten.

1.) “Ash vs. Evil Dead”

When it comes to Bruce Campbell’s dimension-hopping, chainsaw-slinging character Ash in “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” Jacksonville has a special place in his heart. In the television series’ fourth episode of its first season, Ash takes a hallucinogen and finds himself in his own realm of thought. When asked about his happiness, the Jacksonville skyline appears.

2.) “The Year of Getting to Know Us”

Jimmy Fallon’s character Chris Rocket stands lethargically near the Jacksonville International Airport’s baggage claim in the 2008 dramedy “The Year of Getting to Know Us.” The reason Fallon’s character looks like this is because he is coming to his childhood home in Florida to deal with his father’s recent stroke and a dwindling relationship with his mother.

3.) “Revenge of the Creature”

Jacksonville caught creature fever in 1955 when the 3-D syfy sequel “Revenge of the Creature” hit movie theaters around the world. A noteworthy scene in this film shot on the First Coast is when the creature enters a restaurant and carries a girl into the St. Johns River. The scene was filmed in a restaurant on the Southbank Riverwalk at a restaurant called The Lobster House, which closed in 1962.

4.) “The Babysitters Seduction”

In this 1996 thriller, a Jacksonville high school student is asked to look after the children she babysits when their mother dies. Jacksonville is featured in several scenes during this movie, specifically Mandarin High School.

5.) “G.I. Jane”

Demi Moore plays a hopeful soldier in Ridley Scott’s 1997 action film “G.I. Jane.” Some of the film’s scenes were filmed at Camp Blanding, especially scenes on the water and shore with Naval ships in the background. These scenes were pivotal in portraying the grueling training process Moore’s character endured.

6.) “Cool Hand Luke”

Bloodhounds are out to catch an inmate escaping a Florida prison in the 1967 film “Cool Hand Luke.” This scene in particular features roads and woods near Callahan Road Prison, which is located on the outskirts of Jacksonville and no longer exists.

7.) “The Waterboy”

Football is a big deal in Jacksonville. But before the Jaguars’ home turf became Everbank Field, it was called Alltel Stadium and is featured in the opening shot of Adam Sandler’s 1998 comedy “The Waterboy.”

8.) “Sunshine State”

Country clubs and the golf courses behind them can be found all over Jacksonville. The 2002 drama “Sunshine State” starring Angela Bassett and Mary Steenburgen is about how a Florida town full of local businesses copes with eager resort developers. This scene features people golfing on Atlantic Boulevard in Jacksonville.

9.) “Recount”

This HBO film starring Kevin Spacey, Dennis Leary and Laura Dern surrounds the controversy after the 2000 presidential election. Most of its scenes feature several Jacksonville locations including the Seawalk Pavilion, the Jacksonville Beach City Hall and the Prime Osborne Convention Center.

10.) “Zaat”

“Zaat” is the perfect example of a movie that is so bad, it’s good. In this 1972 syfy flick, a scientist turns himself into a catfish monster, terrorizes the environment with a poisonous liquid in a spray bottle and attempts to turn a woman into his catfish bride. A Jacksonville native wrote the film and most of it was shot in Jacksonville and its surrounding areas in Northeast Florida.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s