Due to its natural beauty and dramatic wilderness, Alaska has made its way from a secluded home for mostly locals to embarking its terrain in well-known movies. From the Mendenhall Glacier to the diverse wildlife at Denali Mountain, Alaska is not only an ideal choice for eye-catching views, but it also provides cinematic filmmakers with an isolated and flexible setting for almost any movie.
For over a century, Alaskan natives have accommodated some of the greatest films, including romantic comedies, such as “The Proposal,” psychological thrillers, such as “Insomnia,”, and unsung hero dramas, such as Disney’s “Togo.”
For a better look at the exemplary Alaskan atmosphere, you may remember the noteworthy documentary on an Alaskan bear and man, “Grizzly Man,” which features the immense Alaskan wetland. You might also recall “Big Miracle,” a movie based on a true story filmed primarily near oceans that will fully grasp how the winters of Alaska unleash.
Beyond the ideal landscape, eminent celebrities as Jewel and Bob Ross have emerged from the beautiful place they called home and made it onto the TV screens themselves. Others, specifically Mark A.Z. Dippé grew up in Anchorage and has made a life of directing animated films like “Garfield” and adding visual effects in films like “Jurassic Park.”
With staggering panoramas, prominent celebrities, and an abundance of land for movies to be filmed on, Alaska’s picturesque scenery will no longer be the only aspect you remember. From feel-good comedies to considerable thrillers, the following list of movies filmed in the Alaskan territory might surprise you.
Movies Filmed in the State of Alaska
The Proposal (2009)
The Proposal is a romantic comedy directed by Anne Fletcher. It tells the story of Margaret Tate (played by Sandra Bullock), an editor-in-chief of a New York publishing company who convinces her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds) to marry her so she will not be deported to Canada due to an expired work visa.
The film’s main setting is Sitka, Alaska. The shoot took place there as well—Sitka is a popular tourist destination for tourists. It’s known for the stunning Sitka National Historical Park, as well as activities like glacier and wildlife cruises, and viewing underwater marine life from a glass-bottom boat. It also has a number of museums and cultural centers because of its rich history.
Other filming locations of the film include Massachusetts (at the Motive Number One Building and Bradley Wharf in Rockport) and New York City (at the State Street Bank Building in Manhattan).
1h 48min | PG-13
Insomnia, directed by Christopher Nolan, is a remake of a Norwegian film of the same name. This is a story of two homicide detectives from Los Angeles who are investigating a murder in Alaska.
The movie was shot in multiple locations, including Squamish, British Columbia, and Indian Arm just outside Vancouver. The story is set in Nighmute, a city and village in Alaska, but it was not shot there.
The film has some scenes in and near other Alaska spots, however: the Richardson Highway and Columbia Glacier near the city of Valdez and the Portland Canal near Hyder.
1h 58min | R
White Fang (1991)
Based on the classic 1906 novel by Jack London, the movie tells the story of a Klondike gold prospector Jack Conroy (played by Ethan Hawke) heading for Alaska to find a gold mine where his father worked, and White Fang, a wolfdog (played by Jed the Wolfdog, a wolf-Siberian Husky).
The director, Randal Kleiser, was approached by Walt Disney pictures in 1989. They wanted the movie to be shot where the story took place. They filmed twice in Alaska (discussed in this article), namely Haines and Skagway.
Jed, the wolfdog who played White Fang, has appeared in other films, namely “The Thing” and “The Journey of Natty Gann” from the ’80s, then again at the movie’s sequel, “White Fang 2.”
1h 47min | PG
30 Days of Night (2007)
30 Days of Night is a horror film by David Slade (an adaptation of the horror comic book series by Steve Niles) and stars Josh Hartnett and Melissa George.
The movie is set in the town of Barrow Alaska, a place that experiences a month-long polar night. As the town gets ready for 30 days of darkness, stranger things started to take place—the story then reveals a vampire attack.
The film was mostly filmed in Auckland, New Zealand, but Slade said that it has scenes shot in Alaska too. The polar night that takes place every year is not fiction—the city of Barrow (also known as Utqiagvik) does experience it, from November to January.
1h 53min | R
Grizzly Man (2005)
Grizzly Man is a 2005 documentary directed by Werner Herzog about bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell, who spent 13 years at the Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska. The scenes include original footage from Treadwell himself, as well as interviews with family, friends, and wildlife experts.
Katmai National Park and Preserve is a popular tourist destination in Alaska. Here, people can camp, fish, kayak, hike, and enjoy other outdoor activities. It contains the world’s largest protected brown bear population.
Treadwell spent years filming and raining awareness of the problems encountered by bears in the area. In 2003, he and his girlfriend Amie Hugenard were attacked and partially eaten by a bear. The events that led to the attack remain unknown to this day.
1h 43min | R
Big Miracle (2012)
Starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski, Big Miracle is a film adapted from a 1989 book by Tom Rose called “Freeing the Whales.”
This one follows the story of an effort called “Operation Breakthrough” to rescue whales that were trapped in ice in Point Barrow, Alaska. The movie is directed by Ken Kwapis, and is based on a 1989 book Freeing the Whale.
“Operation Breakthrough” took place in Point Barrow, Alaska, which is the northernmost point of all the territory in the country. The film, however, was shot in Anchorage (as well as Barrow and Seward).
Some of the many excellent outdoor activities for tourists in Anchorage include dog sledding, “flightseeing” glacier and mountains, and Northern Lights viewing.
1h 47min | PG
The Frozen Ground (2013)
This one’s an American thriller directed by Scott Walker and stars Nicholas Cage and John Cusack. The Frozen Ground is based on the real-life crimes of serial killer Robert Hansen, who is from Alaska.
The movie was filmed in Alaska. Walker shot the scenes when winter was just starting and ended when the city was deep into the winter. One of the main locations is Anchorage, which we talked about above.
Other Anchorage highlights include hiking and nature walk attractions, helicopter tours and cruises, and wildlife tours.
1h 45min | R
The Thing (1982)
This 80s science fiction film is based on the novella Who Goes There?, directed by John W. Campbell Jr. The film tells the story of a group of American researchers in Antarctica who encounter The Thing, a shape-shifting alien that can assume the appearance of its victims.
The filming took place for about 12 weeks in the city and borough of Juneau, Alaska, and the Universal Studios Lot.
Being the capital city and the state of Alaska, Juneau is a popular tourist destination. Some of the main attractions here include the breathtaking Mendenhall Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, and the Tracy Arm.
1h 49min | R
The Big White (2005)
This Mark Mylod-directed film stars big names like Robin Wiliams, Woody Harrelson, Holly Hunter, and Giovanni Ribisi.
The film was mostly filmed in the Yukon Territory in Canada, but outdoor scenes were filmed in Alaska and British Columbia. This includes the White Pass or Dead Horse Trail, a mountain pass that leads from Skagway, Alaska.
Visitors can explore this breathtaking scenery on a Skagway day trip via the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway.
1h 40min | R
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country is another sci-fi movie that used Alaska as a backdrop. It stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley. The film, directed by Nicholas Meyer, has different filming locations and fixed sets.
One of the scenes was filmed on top of the Knik Glacier in Alaska, about 50 minutes east of Anchorage. The filming was done via a helicopter.
1h 50min | PG
The movie is set in Alaska but was filmed in Alberta, Canada. We figured it would still be apt to include it on the list because of the historical significance—the historic serum run across Alaska.
Released in 2019 in Disney+, Togo is a drama/adventure film directed by Ericson Core and stars Willem Dafoe, who plays the central character Leonhard Seppala, a Norwegian sled dog breeder and trainer raising his dog Togo, the lead dog in the 1925 serum run to the small town of Nome.
The movie tells the story of the diphtheria outbreak in Nome, an illness that mostly affected children. It was Seppala who was skilled to take on a journey that will get the antitoxin serum using a dog sled.
1h 53min | PG
Into The Wild (2007)
This is another movie that was adapted from a best-selling book. Into The Wild is a 1996 non-fiction book by Jon Krakauer, and was adapted to a movie directed by Sean Penn.
The movie is about Chris McCandless (played by Emile Hirsch), who after graduating in 1990 disconnected from his family and set out to hitchhike on the Stampede Trail in Alaska. After 113 days of surviving in the wilderness, he dies in an abandoned bus. It is still not clear what caused his death.
The movie was filmed in multiple locations such as (Yuma, Arizona, Mount Hood, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington among others), but had scenes shot in Alaska, specifically the town of Cantwell, about 50 miles where the abandoned bus was located, at the north end of Denali National Park.
2h 28min | R