Although New York City is the Empire State’s largest city, there’s a lot more to it than just tall buildings and Broadway. In fact, the fourth most populated state has a whole other 54,000 square miles of “Upstate” to explore.
The 315-mile long Hudson River offers recreation and views throughout, such as those found on the Walkway Over the Hudson, the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world. In total, the state has well over 70,000 miles of waterways. It is also the only one to border both an ocean (Atlantic) and two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario).
The state also has three major mountain ranges. The Catskills mountains are almost 6000 square miles. A portion of the Appalachian Mountains also resides in the state. And then there are the Adirondacks, whose total park size is 28 million acres, making it the largest park outside of Alaska.
Many visitors flock to New York for both its maple syrup and its apples and the stat is ranked at number two in production for both. But when it comes to farming in New York, it’s dairy production that takes precedence, as the state has over 4000 farms strewn throughout.
Considering all of this, it is not surprising that New York State is often chosen as an ideal setting for a film. See below for some of the most famous:
Table of Contents
- Movies filmed in New York State (NY)
- Lolita (1962)
- Sleepaway Camp (1983)
- Sinister (2012)
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
- Alice in Wonderland (1976)
- Malcom X (1992)
- Kaaterskill Falls (2000)
- The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
- Arthur (1981)
- The Headless Horseman (1922)
- A Quiet Place I (2018)
- The Money Pit (1986)
- Super Troopers (2001)
- Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
- Tootsie (1982)
- Meet the Parents (2000)
- Saratoga (1937)
Movies filmed in New York State (NY)
Based upon one of the most controversial books ever published, Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel of the same name, this movie was Stanley Kubrick’s ninth. It starred James Mason as Humbert Humbert and Sue Lyon as Lolita herself, Dolores Haze. The movie was set in New Hampshire with some filming locations in Lake George and Albany.
Sleepaway Camp (1983)
The first movie in a series of five, this slasher flick about murders at a summer camp starred all young actors, including Felissa Rose, Paul DeAngelo, and Katherine Kamhi. Filming was done at Camp Algonquin in Argyle, where director Robert Hiltzik had gone to a summer camp as a youth.
Regarded by many as the scariest movie ever made, this film starred Ethan Hawke as a writer who knowingly moves into a house where a family has been murdered. Once he discovers violent home videos depicting murders, his own family becomes endangered. The movie was set in Pennsylvania with some scenes done on Long Island and Muttontown.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Be careful what you wish for: namely that memories of a former lover get erased from your mind. This drama starred Jim Carrey as Joel, a man so distraught about his break-up with Clementine (Kate Winslet) that he does just that. Supporting actors included Elijah Wood. It was set in NY with locations all over like Montauk, Yonkers, and Mount Vernon.
Alice in Wonderland (1976)
Not to be confused with literally any other adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel, this very adult, pretty erotic, extremely loosely-based version takes Alice to a completely new level. The film did receive an R rating, but a more hardcore version was later made. Filming was done in Athens, Kaaterskill Falls, Hudson, and Palenville.
Malcom X (1992)
Denzel Washington took on the role of Malcolm Little in this biopic directed by Spike Lee, which was based on Alex Haley’s 1965 novel. The two did four other movies together. Costars included Angela Bassett and Albert Hall. Locations were done all over the world, including Long Island, Peekskill, and LaGrangeville, all in New York.
Kaaterskill Falls (2000)
Named after a waterfall in the Catskill Mountain range of southeastern New York, this thriller about a couple who pick up a hitchhiker on the road and bring him back to their motel was both set and filmed there. It starred Hilary Howard, Mitchell Riggs, and Anthony Leslie.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Another Martin Scorsese/Leonardo DiCaprio collaboration, this biopic was based on Jordan Belfort’s 2007 memoir about his experience as a stockbroker in NYC. Costars included Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, and Kyle Chandler. Some filming was done in Ardsley, White Plains, Oyster Bay, Mamaroneck, Harrison, Bayville, and Port Washington.
In order for the lovable drunk Arthur (Dudley Moore) to keep his wealth, status, and privilege, he must marry the well-off Susan. Except who he really wants to marry is Linda (Liza Minnelli). It won Oscars for Best Original Song and Best Supporting Actor. Some scenes were shot on Long Island, with the majority of filming done in NYC.
The Headless Horseman (1922)
Considering that the 1820 short story that this movie was based on was set in Tarrytown, it makes sense that the movie was shot there. This silent, black and white version starred Will Rogers as Ichabod Crane, Lois Meredith as Katrina Van Tassel, and Ben Hendricks Jr. as Brom Bones. It is one of many adaptations of the classic story.
A Quiet Place I (2018)
Written by and starring The Office alum John Krasinski, this horror movie co-starred his wife Emily Blunt. He and his family must figure out how to survive and navigate a post-apocalyptic world where blind monsters stalk prey through sound. Parts of the film were shot in Pawling, Beacon, New Paltz, and Little Falls. The sequel was released in 2021.
The Money Pit (1986)
When Walter and Anna (Tom Hanks and Shelley Long) suddenly find themselves with nowhere to live, they decide to purchase a glorious mansion outside of NYC for $200,000. But once they move in, they realize that the house is in MAJOR need of repair, from the plumbing to the grand staircase. Shots for the movie included Long Island.
Super Troopers (2001)
Five state troopers known for their pranks on the job find those jobs in danger and must solve a crime before their rivals do. Although set in the state of Vermont, locations were done in Beacon, Fishkill, Newburgh, Wappingers Falls, Poughkeepsie, Pleasantville, and Briarcliff Manor, among many other towns in the Hudson Valley Region.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1987)
Director John Hughes’ fifth film, this comedy paired Steve Martin and John Candy as two family men trying to navigate every kind of transportation system in existence in order to get home to Chicago for Thanksgiving. A majority of the comedy film was shot in Batavia and South Dayton. A remake with Will Smith and Kevin Hart is in the works.
After being unable to find work as an actor in New York City, Dustin Hoffman decides to completely change himself (as in, become a woman) in order to land jobs. The film costarred Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, and Bill Murray, among many others. Some locations were done in Hurley. Lange won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Meet the Parents (2000)
This Ben Stiller/Robert De Niro comedy about the trials and tribulations of meeting your girlfriend’s parents was actually a remake of a 1992 movie. This version was highly successful and spawned two other movies. The story was mostly set on Long Island with filming locations there as well as Harrison, Pound Ridge, and White Plains.
This romcom starred Clark Gable and Jean Harlow as a gambler and a horse breeder who fall in love, despite their different lifestyles and already-established relationships. As the title of the film might suggest, the movie was set in Saratoga, with some scenes done at the Saratoga Race Track as well as areas of Kentucky.
New York is home to a great deal of history. There’s the burning of Kingston by the British in 1777. The childhood home, presidential library, and burial place of 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is in Hyde Park. President Washington’s had a headquarters in Newburgh. And don’t forget the state’s connection to Dutch culture.
It has the oldest municipal airport in the country (Albany) as well the longest toll road (the 641-mile Thruway). The New York Post began all the way back in 1803, making it the longest-running newspaper in the country. And the oldest military academy in the US is at West Point.
The list of reasons why New York is a great setting or a great place to recreate another setting for movies is endless. And this list is just the state as a whole. When you zero in on the five boroughs of NYC, the list multiplies!