Top Movies filmed in Nebraska

While many automatic reactions to what Nebraska is about tend to be those delicious Omaha steaks, it is also responsible for quite a few other things. Kool-Aid was invented in Hastings in 1921. The first Arbor Day was also there in 1872. And if you have ever had to use 911, thank Lincoln, where the system was first developed.

It is also where the Reuben sandwich was born and up until 2018, also produced another “meat“, Spam. And if you want a Runza sandwich, the state has over 80 restaurants, a great deal more than any other state, even if combined.

As far as geography is concerned, Nebraska translates to “flat water.” It was given this name by the Otoe tribe in reference to the 310-mile-long Platte River. In its 77,421 square miles, there are 1.5 million acres of forest land, which includes eight state parks.

Other neat finds about Nebraska include that it has the largest indoor rainforest in the nation in Omaha. You’ll also find the famed “Carhenge” in Alliance, 38 junked cars arranged together in the likeness of the original Stonehenge. If you go to the University of Nebraska’s State Museum, you’ll find the world’s largest display of mammoth fossils.

Another interesting fact about the state is that it has occasionally been host to Hollywood film crews over the years. Take a look at our list of some of the most interesting:

Movies filmed in Nebraska

The Gallows (2015)

The Gallows

(Rent – Buy – Stream)

While the reviews for this horror film were scathing, the box office receipts were another story, as it made $43 million on a $100,000 budget. Twenty years after a student is killed during a play performance, the high school puts the play on again and learns the truth. The film was set in Beatrice with filming done there.

1 h 20 min | R

The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004)

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

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This drama starred Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Don Cheadle. It is based upon the true story of Samuel Byck, who in 1974, hijacked a plane leaving Maryland with the intent to crash into the White House and kill then-president of the United States, Richard Nixon. Some filming was done in Omaha.

1h 35m | R

Bad Grandpa (2013)

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

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From the comedy team known as Jackass, this film starred Johnny Knoxville as a dirty old man who is suddenly tasked with watching over his nine-year-old grandson. The pair get themselves into a boatload of trouble and fun. It was the 5th film in the franchise, although the 1st to have a storyline. There were some shots done in Lincoln.

1 h 31 min | R

Election (1999)


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Director Alexander Payne’s 2nd movie, this comedy was based upon a 1998 novel by Tom Perotta. All elections can be a disaster, even high school student government ones. This movie starred Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, and Chris Klein. The story was set in Omaha with some filming there as well as in Bellevue, La Vista, and Papillion.

1 h 42 min | R

Elizabethtown (2005)


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This romcom was Cameron Crowe’s 8th time in the director’s chair. Orlando Bloom plays a man who finds himself extremely down and ready to end it all, only to find out that his father has passed away and he must return to his hometown in Kentucky. Costars included Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, and Alec Baldwin. Some filming was done in Scottsbluff.

2 h 3 min | PG-13

About Schmidt (2002)

About Schmidt

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This movie starring Jack Nicholson was based on a 1996 novel by Louis Begley. Warren Schmidt is a grumpy old man trying to deal with the sudden death of his wife and his daughter’s impending marriage that he disapproves of. Filming was done in several areas, including Minden, Omaha, Kearney, Millard, Ogallala, Lincoln, and Nebraska City.

2 h 5 min | R

American Honey (2016)

American Honey

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Star (Sasha Lane) has a troubled home life in Oklahoma, and when opportunity knocks to start traveling with a sales crew selling subscriptions for magazines, she jumps on it. The film also starred Shia LaBeouf and Riley Keough. Filming was done in several states, including some shots in Bennington and Grand Island.

2 h 43 min | R

Nebraska (2013)


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When Woody receives a letter stating that he won a substantial sweepstakes prize, he and his son journey from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska in order to claim it. Main stars included Will Forte, Bruce Dern, Bob Odenkirk, and June Squibb. Nebraska filming locations included Lincoln, Hooper, Osmond, Stanton, and Elgin, among others.

1 h 54 min | R

Terms of Endearment (1983)

Terms of Endearment

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This drama was produced, written, and directed by James L. Brooks. It was based upon a 1975 novel by Larry McMurty. The ensemble cast included Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, and Jeff Daniels. The film spans 30 years of a relationship between a mother and daughter. It won five Oscars. Some filming was done in Lincoln and Kearney.

2 h 11 min | PG

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995)

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

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This comedy had Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo, and Wesley Snipes in starring roles as three drag queens who take a road trip to Hollywood for the “Miss Drag Queen of America” pageant. Filming was done in several states along their driving route, including Omaha, Lincoln, Loma, and Hooper.

1 h 48 min | 18+

Sarah, Plain and Tall (1991)

This made-for-TV movie had Glenn Close in the title role, as a mail-order bride from Maine who responds to an ad from a lonely farmer in Kansas in the early 1900s. It was the first in the three-part series based upon books by Patricia MacLaughlan from the 1980s. Some filming was done in Grand Island.

1h 38m | G

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

This western starred James Franco, Tim Blake Nelson, Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson, and a host of others. It was movie number 26 for the Coen brothers. The film encompasses six small stories that had been written by the brothers over a 20-25-year span. Some filming was done in Scottsbluff.

2h 13m | 15+

Downsizing (2017)


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This dramedy was director Alexander Payne’s 7th movie, and starred Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, and Hong Chau. Paul and Audrey decide to take part in an experiment where they are shrunk down to five inches and move to Leisureland, New Mexico. The movie was partly set in Omaha with some locations done there.

2 h 15 min | R

The Indian Runner (1991)

Director by actor Sean Penn, this crime film was actually based on a 1982 song by Bruce Springsteen, entitled “Highway Patrolman.” It is the story of two brothers, one a sheriff, the other a criminal (David Morse and Viggo Mortenson), in 1960s Nebraska. Some parts of the movie were done in Plattsmouth, Omaha, and Arlington.

2 h 6 min | R

Citizen Ruth (1996)

Citizen Ruth

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Starring Laura Dern, Swoosie Kurtz, Kelly Preston, and Burt Reynolds, this film tells the story of a severely drug-addicted woman in Nebraska. She has four children that have been taken from her by the state, and now has another one on the way. Which complicates things when it comes to various crimes. Some filming was done in Omaha.

1 h 45 min | R

Boys Town (1938)

Boys Town

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Considering that Boys Town was founded and still remains of suburb of Omaha, it is no surprise that the movie would take place and be filmed there. Filming locations included the actual Boys Town. The film had Spencer Tracy in the lead role, for which he won the Oscar for Best Actor. A sequel was released in 1941.

1 h 32 min | 13+

Yes Man (2008)

Yes Man

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This Jim Carrey-led comedy was based on Danny Wallace’s 2005 memoir. Costars included Zooey Deschanel, Rhys Darby, and Bradley Cooper. After developing great negativity about his life, a man attends a seminar that encourages saying “Yes” to everything. Which isn’t always the best. Part of the movie was filmed in Lincoln.

1 h 44 min | PG-13

Although it ranks at number 16 in size, due to its residents being so spread out, it only has the 37th largest population. Although it takes third place in US producers of corn, that state did win at taking the nickname for it, as it the Cornhusker State.

And although it ranks on the lower end in the number of films that have come out of the state, due to its unique geographical features and Midwestern climate, it is surely going to remain a contender.

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