For an area that is not considered a city today (although it was up until 1898), Brooklyn sure has some city-like attributes. For starters, the population is made up of only 60% Americans, the rest are foreign-born. And Brooklyn actually has more land than Manhattan, 71 square miles to 23, along with an additional 30 miles of shoreline.
And of course, there’s the Brooklyn Bridge, the first-ever steel-wire suspension bridge to not only be built but also the first-ever crossing over the East River. And don’t forget Coney Island and the wooden Cyclone rollercoaster, built in 1927 along with the iconic Wonder Wheel, constructed in 1920. And then, of course, Nathan’s hot dogs in 1916.
There are also over 2.5 million residents, making it the most densely populated of all five boroughs. Those residents are made up of mostly young people; the median age is 34.7. And today, it has become a playground for filmmakers. And that’s just Brooklyn; get a load how many movies came out of New York City.
See below for some of the most famous movies that had scenes done in the BK AKA Kings County.
Movies Filmed on Location in Brooklyn NYC
Saturday Night Fever (1977)
John Travolta’s 4th film, this dance movie told the story of Brooklynite dance machine Tony Manero. The movie was based on an article published in New York magazine and not only helped Travolta climb the ladder in Hollywood but also brought disco music to the screen with its best-selling soundtrack. The movie was set and shot in Brooklyn.
1 h 58 min | R
Not to be confused with the actually non-existent movie Shazam starring Sinbad, this actual existing movie starred Shaquille O’Neal a genie released from its containment by a young boy who is being harassed by a group of troublemakers. The movie had locations shot in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles.
1 h 33 min | PG
Although a majority of this biographical mob movie starring Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci, and Robert De Niro was filmed in Astoria, there were scenes done in several Brooklyn areas, such as Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge. It was directed by Martin Scorsese, his 13th movie. The film was written by Nicholas Pileggi, who also wrote the book it was based on.
2 h 25 min | R
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Director Sidney Lumet’s 22nd movie, this biopic starred Al Pacino as criminal Sonny Wortzik, with John Cazale playing his sidekick Sal Naturile. The movie is based upon an article from Life magazine about the 1972 robbery of a Chase Bank in Brooklyn. Shots were done in Prospect Park. The movie won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
2 h 4 min | R
Although this romance about a woman in Ireland coming to Brooklyn for work is named after it, there were only a few shots that were actually done in Brooklyn, including of course, scenes from Coney Island. The rest was done overseas. Although the movie was written by author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity), it is based on a book by Colm Tóibín.
1 h 51 min | PG-13
He Got Game (1998)
A “Spike Lee Joint”, this sports movie starred Denzel Washington and Ray Allen as father and son. Sounds pretty standard, except this father is serving time for murdering his wife, and this son is the number one basketball prospect in the United States. The movie was set in Brooklyn and locations were done at Coney Island.
2 h 16 min | R
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014)
Unlike other movies that sometimes use city or state names in the title but have zero shots made there, this comedy/drama did utilize Brooklyn for filming. The movie starred Robin Williams (in one of his last roles) as the already-angry man who is told he has 90 minutes to live, Peter Dinklage, and Mila Kunis.
1 h 23 min | R
The French Connection (1971)
Based upon a 1969 book, this Gene Hackman-led action/thriller won a whopping five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director. It is also highly touted as having the best car chase scene ever in a movie. And that famous scene with Hackman behind the wheel was filmed right in Bensonhurst. A sequel was released in 1975.
1 h 43 min | R
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Another Spike Lee Joint (number 3), this film introduced both Martin Lawrence and Rosie Perez to the big screen. The story about racial tensions hitting their boiling point was set in Brooklyn, with the entire movie being done in the Bed-Stuy section. It won Oscars for both Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor (Danny Aiello).
2h | R
Above the Rim (1994)
While a great deal of this sports movie was shot in Harlem, which is also it’s setting, there were some scenes that were done at a high school in East Flatbush. Tupac Shakur and Duane Martin starred in this movie about a talented young basketball player and a drug dealer, who was the same talented young basketball player years before.
1 h 37 min | R
The Warriors (1979)
This action/thriller was based on a 1965 book by Sol Yurick. The movie details the trip one New York City gang makes from the Bronx all the way to Coney Island after being falsely accused of murdering another gang leader. Although set in part in the Bronx borough, locations were only done in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.
1 h 33 min | R
Donnie Brasco (1997)
Directed by Mike Newell, with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp as the main actors, this crime movie was based on a 1988 book by Joseph Pistone and Richard Woodley. In the 1970s, FBI agent Pistone (AKA Donnie Brasco) was able to penetrate an NYC crime family. Shots were done at the Brooklyn Armory in Park Slope with the movie mostly set in New York.
2 h 6 min | R
And yet another Spike Lee Joint, this one, similar to Do the Right Thing from five years before, also takes place in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn, although the storyline goes back about 20 years and sets the movie in 1973. The movie starred Delroy Lindo, Alfre Woodard, Spike Lee himself, and Isaiah Washington.
1 h 54 min | 18+
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Darren Aronofsky’s 2nd movie was based on Hubert Selby Jr.’s 1978 novel. It starred Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans and deals with how each character, including Leto’s onscreen mother (Ellen Burstyn), is affected by drug use. Locations were done in several areas of Brooklyn, such as Coney Island and Brighton Beach.
1 h 41 min | 18+
The Godfather (1972)
Francis Ford Coppola’s 6th movie, this gangster crime drama was based upon a 1969 novel written by Mario Puzo. The ensemble cast included big names like Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and James Caan. It was the first of three movies featuring the Corleone family. Filming locations included Sicily, New York, and parts of Brooklyn.
2 h 57 min | R
This romantic comedy was Cher’s 9th film and will forever be associated with her slaps and “Snap out of it!” quote. Costars included Nicholas Cage as her love interest, Danny Aiello as her fiancé, and Olympia Dukakis as her mother. The film was set in New York and locations, such as the brownstone where they lived, were done in Brooklyn Heights.
1 h 41 min | PG
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
Although this drama was Meryl Streep’s 8th movie (and her 2nd Oscar win), for Kevin Kline, it was his very first. Polish-born Sophie moves to Brooklyn to escape her past, which involves her being a Holocaust survivor. The movie was set in Brooklyn with locations done in Prospect Park, among other areas. Streep also took the Golden Globe.
2 h 30 min | R
Neither the population nor the popularity of Brooklyn seems to be waning any time soon. And just as it grows more enticing to those who are looking to move into Brooklyn and also play in Brooklyn, its use as perfect backdrop for some of the biggest blockbusters coming out of Hollywood will only grow as well.
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