Nicknamed “America in Miniature” or “Little America,” Maryland is home to over 10,000 miles of land and water. While it’s one of the smallest states in the United States, it is home to diverse topography, making it a popular film production location.
The state is often used in film and TV production because of its location (it’s known for the striking sights of the Chesapeake Bay, the mountains, and the ocean) and its close proximity to Washington D.C., which sometimes restricts filming for security reasons.
In an article about the state’s film industry, Baltimore Sun Entertainment reporter Chris Kaltenbach said that the state is a good location for “any sort of scenario,” and it’s true—the state has both small and big towns, as well as vast nature sceneries.
This article will take a closer look at some of these sites and talk about some of the movies that were filmed in the state, from rom-coms like Wedding Crashers and Failure to Launch, to political dramas like Absolute Power and Enemy of the State. We’re featuring both new and classic films, and mention some of the specific spots in the state where they were filmed.
Movies filmed in Maryland
Directed by Terry Gilliam, 12 Monkeys is a critically-acclaimed science fiction film inspired by the 1962 short film La Jetee. It stars Bruce Willis and a then-relatively unknown Brad Pitt.
It tells the story of a deadly virus that forces survivors to live underground. A group called the Army of 12 Monkeys was believed to be the ones to release the virus.
The film was shot in Philadelphia and Baltimore, Maryland, where the story was set. One of the popular locations is the Senator Theatre, an Art Deco movie theater in Baltimore.
2h 9min | R
Hairspray (1988 and 2007)
Both a film and Broadway musical, Hairspray is a comedy set in 1962 Maryland. It tells the story of Tracy Turnblad, who becomes an overnight celebrity after auditioning on The Corny Collins Show.
Hairspray, the 1988 film, was released in 1988 and was shot in Baltimore, specifically at the Perry Hall High School. Scenes were also filmed in Pennsylvania.
The film was adapted to a Broadway musical in 2002 and was then adapted to a film (starring John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, and Amanda Bynes) in 2007.
1 h 31 min | PG
Avalon is a film debut written and directed by Barry Levinson, who would eventually write and direct four other connected films—a semi-autobiographical tetralogy set in Baltimore, his hometown. This film’s stars include Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, and Kevin Bacon.
The film tells the story of Baltimorean friends who reunite at a diner as one of them is preparing to get married.
The film was shot in Baltimore, Maryland. Locations include the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Camden Station, Canton, and Fells Point.
2 h 7 min | PG
Absolute Power (1997)
This is a political action film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, and based on the novel of the same name by David Baldacci. The film also stars Gene Hackman, Ed Harris, and Laura Linney.
The film tells the story of Luther Whitney, Eastwood’s character, who witnesses a crime involving Alan Richmond (Gene Hackman).
The film was shot in Maryland, in locations like the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Watergate Hotel, and Maryvale Preparatory School. Some of the scenes that depicted Washington, D.C. were shot in Baltimore, and the museum scenes were mostly filmed at the Walters Art Museum in Mount Vernon-Belvedere.
2h 1min | R
Runaway Bride (1999)
Runaway Bride, a film directed by Gary Marshall and starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere (the second film where the two co-starred after Pretty Woman), was mostly filmed in Berlin, Maryland.
The film used the historic town of Berlin for the fictitious Hale, Maryland (the scenes were shot in Berlin’s Main Street). There were also scenes shot in Baltimore but are portrayed as New York City.
1h 56min | PG
…And Justice for All. (1979)
Al Pacino stars in this 1979 neo-noir drama film directed by Norman Jewison. It follows the story of a lawyer who is forced to defend a guilty judge as he defends innocent clients.
The film was shot in different locations around Maryland, mostly in Baltimore. Some of the spots include Fort McHenry, Mount Vernon Place, Fell’s Point, and Federal Hill Park.
1h 59min | R
Released in 1990, Cry-Baby is a teen musical romantic comedy directed by John Waters and stars Johnny Depp and Amy Locane.
The film is set in 1950s Baltimore, and tells the story of Wade “Cry-Baby” Walker, who leads a group of drapes (a youth subculture during the 50s to 60s), and falls in love with a girl who has a boyfriend.
Some of the Maryland shooting locations include the Maryland House of Correction, Milford Mill, Franklin Middle School, and Sykesville.
1h 25min | PG-13
Enemy of the State (1998)
Directed by Tony Scott, Enemy of the State is an action film that stars Will Smith, Gene Hackman, and Jon Voight. It tells the story of a lawyer who accidentally finds evidence of a politically motivated crime, and how he becomes targeted by a corrupt politician.
The film has a number of shooting locations, including Maryland, Washington DC, and Los Angeles. The main Maryland locations include Mount Vernon, Fells Point, and Boston Street.
2h 12min | R
Failure to Launch (2006)
Failure to Launch is a romantic comedy directed by Tom Dey and stars Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker. The film is about a 35-year-old man who still lives with his parents in Baltimore, and how he meets an interventionist that they hired to help him move out.
The film was shot in different locations in the US, including Maryland, Alabama, Delaware, and New Orleans. In Maryland, scenes were shot at St. Michael’s, Oxford, Annapolis, and Baltimore.
1 h 36 min | PG-13
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan star in this 90s film directed and co-written by Nora Ephron.
The film tells the story of Sam, played by Hanks, who loses his wife to cancer. His son Jonah calls a radio show in an attempt to find him another partner. One of the listeners is Ryan’s character Annie, a writer for the Baltimore Sun.
The film was shot in Maryland, Seattle, and Chicago. Maryland locations include the office of the Baltimore Sun Building, Fell’s Point, and Mount Vernon.
1 h 45 min | PG
Wedding Crashers (2004)
Starring Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn and directed by David Dobkin, Wedding Crashers is a rom-com about two Washington, D.C, divorce mediators who crash weddings to meet women.
The film was shot in both D.C. and Maryland, in locations such as the Inn at the Perry Cabin in Saint Michaels (the wedding reception scene) and the Assateague Island National Seashore, a National Park. Scenes were also shot in studios in Los Angeles.
2 h 6 min | NR
He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)
Directed by Ken Kwapis, He’s Just Not That Into You is a film based on a book of the same name. The all-star cast is composed of stars like Jennifer Aniston Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connely, Bradley Cooper, Scarlett Johansson, and many more.
The film, which is set in Baltimore and has many story arcs, tells the story of Gigi, who misreads the behaviors of her dates. Most of the scenes were shot around Baltimore, such as Brewer’s Hill and Canton. Other locations include California and England.
2 h 9 min | PG-13
The Social Network (2010)
The Social Network is an award-winning biographical film that portrays the story of Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg. Directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin, it’s based on a Ben Mezrich book The Accidental Billionaires.
The film stars Jesse Eisenberg as Zuckerberg and Andrew Garfield as Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.
Some of the campus scenes were shot at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. According to an article in The Baltimore Sun, the film used the campus to double for Harvard, where the real story took place.
2h | PG-13
Step Up (2006)
Step Up, directed by acclaimed choreographer Anne Fletcher, is the first installment of the Step Up film series (it had five more sequels after this) and stars now ex-couple Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan.
Tatum plays Tyler Gage, a student who needed to do community service after a school vandalism case. He meets Nora, played by Dewan, who needed a new dance partner for an audition at a dance company.
The film is set in Maryland specifically the fictional Maryland School of the Arts. The scenes were shot at Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore. Other locations in the area include Riverside Power Plant on Broening Highway and the Canton district (see them here).
1 h 43 min | PG-13
St. Elmo’s Fire (1985)
This 80’s film is a coming-of-age story directed by Joel Schumacher and starring actors that would eventually become big stars—Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, and Demi Moore.
The film’s setting is Georgetown University, but the actual school did not give permission to film on-campus due to possible questionable content, like racy scenes. Instead, production took place in the public University of Maryland in College Park.
1 h 48 min | R