Just some of the more popular reasons that NYC is so well known include things like the NYPL, the second-largest library system in the US, and the third-largest library in the world. And don’t forget the American Museum of Natural History, the Met, Ellis Island, the 9/11 Memorial, the MoMA, Top of the Rock, and so much more to explore.
Then there’s its population; there are 27,000 people per square mile, and although it is only about 23 square feet compared to the state’s 55,000, residents in NYC make up a whopping 40% of the state’s population. And that population is a real mix; you can hear upwards of 800 different languages spoken on the streets and in shops.
Other unique attributes include the Hudson River, which meets with the Atlantic Ocean in Manhattan, towering buildings like the Empire State Building mixed in with expansive greenery like Central Park. And it’s all topped off with the crème de la crème in acting, stage shows along Broadway.
It is for these reasons, and a ton more, that the home of France’s 1886 gift of the Statue of Liberty is a hot spot for filmmakers. See below for a list of some of the most famous (and interesting) ones that have visited New York City with their camera crews.
Movies Filmed in NYC (Manhattan)
The Basketball Diaries (1995)
Based upon a novel written by Jim Carroll about his own life, this biopic starred Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role, with Lorraine Bracco and Mark Wahlberg among the list of supporting actors. Locations were done all over New York state, with specific New York City ones on East 72nd Street and in Times Square, among many others.
1 h 42 min | R
Working Girl (1988)
Starring Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, and Sigourney Weaver, this comedy/drama about a young female secretary trying to climb the ladder in a man’s world was nominated for five Oscars and won one. Several areas of New York City were used for filming, such as the City Midday Club, One Chase Manhattan Plaza, and the Equitable Building.
1 h 53 min | R
The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
Al Pacino, as the devil himself, starred in this supernatural horror film opposite Keanu Reeves as the young lawyer he aims to corrupt and Charlize Theron as Reeves’ wife he aims to turn insane. The main parts of the film were set in NYC and just some of the locations included the Continental Club and Trump Tower, as well as many churches.
2 h 23 min | R
The romance/mystery movie that made pottery wheels somehow sexy starred Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg. The story took place within Manhattan and some locations included Soho and Wall Street. The movie did exceptionally well; with $505 million in box office receipts, it was the most successful flick for that year.
2 h 6 min | PG-13
American Psycho (2000)
While this story is 100% set within New York City, Christian Bales’s Patrick Bateman was actually terrorizing Toronto when it came to filming. Shots done in NYC were few and far between, and were only really established ones. The movie co-starred Jared Leto and was based on Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel, although it was set in the 80s.
1 h 42 min | R
Cruel Intentions (1999)
This drama starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, and Ryan Phillippe was loosely based on a 1782 French novel. It was set in New York City and also filmed at locations like East 79th and Fifth Avenue, Central Park, and the Met. A famously controversial moment in the movie won Best Kiss at the MTV movie awards that year.
1 h 37 min | R
Black Swan (2010)
Darren Aronofsky’s sixth film, this one had Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis in the lead as ballerinas vying for top honors at the New York City Ballet company. While many scenes were filmed at SUNY Purchase in Westchester County, NY, filmmakers also utilized areas of NYC, such as Bowling Green, Lincoln Center, and Broadway.
1 h 48 min | R
Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
Moving from living in small-town upstate NY, in the sequel, Gizmo and “friends” take over a broadcasting company located in Manhattan. The main action takes place at Clamp Tower, which 101 Park Avenue stood in for. Phoebe Cates and Zach Gilligan reprised their roles as Kate and Billy, with Howie Mandel signing on again as Gizmo’s voice.
1 h 46 min | PG-13
Director Ivan Reitman’s sixth movie, this one with Venkman, Stantz, and Spengler as the original “ghosthunters” is a very New York City movie. Scenes throughout included Rockefeller Center, FDNY Ladder 8, City Hall, the NYPL, and many others. New films and ideas using these characters and storylines continue to be developed to this day.
1 h 45 min | PG
Fatal Attraction (1987)
While much it was shot a little further north in such towns like Bedford and Ossining, a few NYC locations were done for this psychological thriller about what can really happen when you start what you think is just an extramarital affair. The movie starred Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer, and that poor rabbit.
1 h 59 min | R
Carlito’s Way (1993)
This crime movie about redemption was adapted from two novels by Judge Edwin Torres. Locations in Manhattan included Greenwich Village, East Harlem, and Grand Central Terminal. Director Brian De Palma’s 22nd film starred Al Pacino in the title role, with an assortment of actors like Sean Penn and Penelope Ann Miller in supporting roles.
2 h 24 min | R
While this zany comedy was shot in various locations all over the US, there were some scenes done in the Meatpacking District and along West Broadway. Ben Stiller starred as Derek Zoolander, a mostly brainless model who must stop Mugatu (Will Ferrell) from killing the Malaysian Prime Minister by using “Magnum.”
1 h 29 min | PG-13
When Harry Met Sally…(1989)
One of the most famous scenes of this romantic comedy (ending with the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” line) starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal took place at the famous Katz’s Deli in Manhattan. The movie tried to prove that men and women can be friends…by the main characters not actually being able to be just friends at all.
1 h 35 min | R
This monster/disaster movie is just another one in a long line (that always seems to continue to grow) of movies that choose NYC as their pick to destroy. Scenes within the borough included Bloomingdale’s on Third Avenue and the Time Warner Center. It used the found footage tactic popular at the time and was produced by J.J. Abrams of Lost fame.
1 h 24 min | PG-13
This comedy about growing up too fast (Josh ages from 12 to 35 overnight) was Tom Hanks’ 10th movie. It relied heavily on landmarks in its filming, such as FAO Schwarz in Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and the George Washington Bridge. Hanks was actually a replacement for another famous actor who could not do it: Robert De Niro.
1 h 44 min | PG
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
The Tenenbaum family lived in New York City, so it was only natural to film some scenes there, such as their home in Harlem, the Central Park Zoo, and the Waldorf-Astoria. The film had an ensemble cast including Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, and Bill Murray. It was Wes Anderson’s 3rd movie.
1 h 49 min | R
Men in Black (1997)
The top secrets of alien immigration agents Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are revealed throughout this comedy, the first of four movies to date. Scenes were done at the Guggenheim Museum, Battery Park, the Lower East Side, and Greenwich Village as well as various other famous locations within the five boroughs of New York.
1 h 37 min | 16+
The Empire State, the City That Never Sleeps, The City; there are a lot of different nicknames. And a lot of things to brag about. Whether it’s pizza, Broadway shows, shopping, Times Square, or a billion other reasons, NYC is popular. For tourists, and also filmmakers looking to use some of the area’s iconic landmarks for scenes.
And this is just Manhattan. When you factor in the other boroughs, the list grows pretty rapidly!
If you love “The Big Apple“, be sure to check out these other lists:
- Movies filmed in the Bronx
- Movies filmed in Brooklyn
- Movies filmed in Staten Island
- and Movies filmed in Queens.