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The Best Movies Filmed in Arizona That Appeared on the Big Screen

Suny Errot

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“Why does this place look so familiar? I think I’ve already seen this before.” Numerous Arizona spots appeared on the big screen that it’s oftentimes too hard to track. And we’re not just talking about the Grand Canyon. Thanks to its sprawling deserts, stunning freshwater, and beautiful urban areas, many directors found this state the perfect filming location for countless movies. From sci-fi movies to a conventional rom-com, here are movies filmed in Arizona that appeared on the big screen aside from the Grand Canyon:

Return of the Jedi (1983)

Return of the Jedi Sandy Desert Dunes Arizona
Source; Return of the Jedi Sandy Dunes | iStockPhoto/jziegler

The Return of the Jedi is the final film in the original Star Wars trilogy. The American filmmaker George Lucas thought it was a good idea to film parts of the galaxy in Arizona. Where exactly, you ask? They filmed some parts of the movie at a desert near Yuma on the Arizona-California border. These scenes are of course from the scenes in the Tatooine desert. Jabba the Hutt’s hover barge was also built at the Imperial Sand Dunes in Buttercup Valley. As far a movies filmed in Arizona go, this is by far the most famous and popular. 

Piranha 3D (2010)

The location of this comedy horror film is the stunning Lake Havasu. It is a gigantic lake that encompasses hundreds of acres and gives you views of the pristine mountains. If you’ve watched Piranha 3D, you might be hesitant to dip in the waters of the lake. But don’t worry! Unlike how this Arizona spot appeared on the big screen, Havasu Lake is not infested with the killer fish.

In fact, many visitors are loving the designated swimming area as they are covered with the beautiful white sand.

Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Titan Missile Arizona Spot on the Big Screen
Source: Titan Missile Arizona | Reuters/Nicole Neri

Since we’re talking about the famous Arizona spots that appeared on the big screen, then this one shouldn’t be left behind. The Star Trek: First Contact film used the Titan Missile Museum in Green Valley as the location to film the warp ship. The museum is also known as the Air Force Facility Missile Site 8 or as Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile site located at Sahuarita, Arizona.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

Transformers Arizona Spots That Appeared on the Big Screen
Source: Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Transformers | Transformers/Hasbro

As the Decepticons target Sam Witwicky and drag him back to the Transformers’ war, we are also transported to one of Arizona’s most interesting places, the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. It is a 2,600-acre boneyard in Tucson with aircraft from the NASA, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy-Marine Corps.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Old Twin Arrows Trading Post Arizona
Source: Old Twin Arrows Trading Post | Calixbe

Do you remember the “Smiley face” t-shirt when Forrest jogs past the Old Twin Arrows Trading Post? Yes, you got that right. This is Arizona. Unfortunately, this spot is gone and you can only find it plastered in graffiti. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that it was once a famous stop along Route 66.

Forrest Gump Monument Valley

In another scene, Forrest was three years into his journey and he decides to stop running. The scene shows a part of the Monument Valley, treating the audience to the dramatic sandstone buttes loved by travelers around the world.

Tin Cup (1996)

Tubac Golf Resort & Spa Arizona Spot on the Big Screen
Source: Tubac Golf Resort & Spa | Tin Cup

This hit movie is famous for many golf lovers. You may even be surprised that this is one of the movies filmed in Arizona. But you shouldn’t be. Arizona has some of the best golf courses in the country and the year-round sunny weather makes it perfect for golfers. And if you love having tee time in your free time, there’s a small chance you might know the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa or the Santa Rita Golf Course in Arizona. Also, look for the Rancho #4 hole. It’s the one that got a lot of screen time in the film.


Do you know of any other movies filmed in Arizona that also appeared on the big screen? Make sure to share it with us in the comments below!

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