Central Park, New York
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The Big Apple’s enormous green belt has featured in films over 231 times. Norse gods Loki and Thor bid the Earth adieu from the park’s iconic Bethesda Terrace at the end of The Avengers film, the Sex and the City crew spent hours lunching and walking within its blades and Peter Parker and Mary Jane had a tearful split atop its Bow Bridge in 2007’s Spiderman 3.
Venice Beach, California
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No doubt you’ve seen oodles of film characters taking a stroll down the palm-lined boardwalk that snakes along the huge stretch of Pacific Ocean sand. Million Dollar Baby, American History X and The Big Lebowski all feature scenes shot here but the beach has been a big-screen favourite since the silent movie era, with several films shot along its canals way back in the 1920s.
Greenwich Village, New York
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This artsy pocket of New York makes an appearance in most NY-based films, including the Will Smith-starring Men in Black and I Am Legend. Friends fans will also know it as the setting of the six-strong group’s shenanigans, even though all scenes were shot at a studio in California, save for a few exterior shots of the stand-in apartment on Bedford Street
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This Cali college stood in for the Harvard campus in Legally Blonde, Robert Langdon’s place of work in Angels and Demons and makes several appearances in Scream 2. But use of the full name of the university – University of California, Los Angeles – is very strict.
Coney Island, New York
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Even if you’ve never been to the States, you’d surely recognise the Wonder Wheel and Cyclone roller coaster from countless films where the characters take a trip to this riotous island, including Brooklyn, Requiem for a Dream and Cloverfield.
Times Square, New York
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The flashing, technicolour advertisements tacked onto the buildings that line the Midtown intersection have become a tourist destination in themselves; it makes sense, then, many city-centric films feel the need to show a glimpse of it. Watch main characters charge through the crowds in Friends with Benefits, and The Devil Wears Prada or, in the case of Vanilla Sky, Tom Cruise panic at the sight of an empty square.
University of British Columbia, Canada
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In the past two decades, the grounds and interior of this Vancouver campus have stood in for other universities and impressive homes almost 100 times. It pretended to be Washington State University in the Fifty Shades of Grey film adaptation, a high school in Shakespeare reimagining She’s The Man and as a city across the pond, London, in Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum 3.
South Bank, London
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Literally the southern bank of the Thames River, this suburb is home to scores of must-do attractions, including the London Eye, the Florence Nightingale Museum and Shakespeare’s Globe. Its streets are also the setting for quintessentially British movies such as About a Boy and About Time.
Hollywood Boulevard, California
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This street embodies the starry quality of Hollywood quite literally, as this is where you’ll find the 2600 tile brass stars that comprise the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Multiple movies have made use of the busy stretch’s star power, including Mulholland Drive, Iron Man 3 and Borat.
Canary Wharf, London
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The skyscrapers at this financial centre make it the perfect scene-setting shot when a plot turns to big business, as in Batman Begins and Casino Royale. But an abandoned lot nearby also appears as a hideout in Fast and Furious 6 and its tube station even pops up in space during a chase scene in Star Wars: Rogue One.
Piccadilly Circus, London
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The reams of advertising in this central London junction give Times Square some stiff competition but there are still some English touches: red double-decker buses zooming past, a century-old subterranean tube station and, naturally, a roundabout. Harry Potter and the crew pop up here while escaping from Death Eaters in the first Deathly Hallows film and Bridget Jones saunters through it in the eponymous film.
Griffith Observatory, California
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Since James Dean got into a knife fight at this domed building in 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause, the Griffith Observatory has popped up in multiple movies: Seb and Mia share a surreal dance here in La La Land, Charlie’s Angels battle Demi Moore remake and it pops in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Want to visit? It boasts a great view of the Hollywood sign.
Old Royal Naval College, London
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Stately in size and in structure, this military building in Greenwich adds atmosphere to many period pieces, including Les Miserables, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Duchess. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the building, as it stands today, was built in the 17th century (though beneath it are the remains of Greenwich Palace, home of Henry VIII) as a hospital but on the silver screen it’s stood in for Napoleon-era Paris, grand manors and a crash-landing spot for spacecraft.
Big Bear Lake, California
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Thanks to more than 300 blue-sky days a year, this rugged expanse of the California wilderness is a favourite of film producers – and there’s plenty of new spots to shoot, given the National Forest covers 323,000 hectares and there’s 35 kilometres of lake shoreline. Its great outdoors are featured in Gone with the Wine, Dr Doolittle and War Games, as well as during outdoor episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and The King of Queens.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney
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The soaring sails are the most filmed location in all of Australia, according to comparison site Go Compare, appearing as a backdrop in Mission Impossible 2 and Kangaroo Jack (not to mention the latest Tourism Australia campaign). Close behind is Bondi beach, Sydney Harbour and Kings Cross, helping to make Oz the eighth most-filmed country in the world.
Cotswolds, United Kingdom
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This belt of English greenery is the go-to location for many an English rom-com – if you've ever seen a quaint village, surrounded by sweet parks and cobblestone roads, chances are it was filmed here. Just a few of the blockbusters and miniseries to line up landscapes from this 1287-square-kilometre stretch of England include The Holiday, Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter, The Remains of the Day and Braveheart.
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Any Game of Thrones aficionado worth their box set collection knows this Mediterranean city is the real-life counterpart to Westeros’s capital King’s Landing. Not only do the Old Town’s walls get ample screen time throughout the series, the Jesuit Stairs is where Cersei began her infamous walk of shame and the abandoned Hotel Belvedere is the site of the eye-popping battle between the Mountain and the Viper.
Greystone Mansion, California
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If a movie features an aristocratic, moneyed family, chances are there have been scenes shot at this sprawling mansion – particularly in the hallway with the checkerboard tiles. It’s been used in X-Men, The Social Network, The Holiday, The Prestige, The Muppets, Rush Hour, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Batman and Robin, The Bodyguard, Richie Rich, Flowers in the Attic, Ghostbusters – and that doesn’t even make a decent dent in the list.
Hatfield House, England
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You might know it as Lara Croft’s mansion, or as the palace in Shakespeare in Love, or the Wayne Manor in the 2005’s Batman Begins. But, in reality, Hatfield House is an enormous estate in Hertfordshire that features a Tudor palace (childhood home of Elizabeth I), a 12th century church and an intricate Elizabethan knot garden.
Anywhere in New Zealand
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Peter Jackson made our southern neighbour synonymous with natural wonders thanks to his Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. Though the incredible mountains, lakes and rolling hills have featured in other projects such as Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Top of the Lake and the recently released A Wrinkle in Time, Tolkien fans flock to the north and south islands to re-enact their own fellowship fantasies.
Monument Valley, Utah
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The distinct rock formations emerging across this rust-coloured valley make it a go-to for any films set in the Wild West – or even outer space, thanks to footage used to create an alien planet in 2001: A Space Odyssey. And it’s also immortalised in 2D form as the inspiration behind the backdrop in the Coyote and Road Runner cartoons.
Quality Café, Los Angeles
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Though it hasn’t been a functioning diner for more than a decade, the West 7th Street restaurant’s red booths have been the setting for quick meals and snatched conversations in countless movies and TV shows, including Gone in 60 Seconds, Se7en, Catch Me if You Can, Million Dollar Baby, Mad Men and 500 Days of Summer.
Tiffany & Co., New York
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It may have featured in fewer films than other locations on this list but it’s certainly one of the most recognisable backdrops thanks, of course, to Audrey Hepburn nibbling a Danish outside its window in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. But it’s also where Patrick Dempsey’s character pops the question to Reese Witherspoon’s in Sweet Home Alabama and appears in and episode of TV series Glee.
Trevi Fountain, Rome
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Scores of movie stars have thrown a coin into this bubbling water feature, though they’re usually surrounded by far fewer punters than your average tourist trying to guarantee their return to Rome. Arguably its most lauded starring role is in La Dolce Vita, where the two leads wade in its waters before dawn.