Top Movies filmed in Tennessee


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If when you think of Tennessee, you immediately associate music, you would definitely not be wrong. The capital city, Nashville, is known to be the center of country music, with not only the Grand Ole Opry (the longest-running radio show in America), but the Country Music Hall of Fame, and a generous amount of places to let loose and dance.

And don’t forget Memphis, where you can find all the blues you could ever want on Beale Street or visit Elvis Presley’s home at Graceland (the second-most visited house in the US, the White House being number one). And Bristol holds the title of “Birthplace of Country Music.”

All of these might contribute to the fact that the Volunteer State has 10 different state songs (so far).

But music isn’t the only entertainment that comes out of Tennessee. It has also been used as the location for a great deal of movies.

See below for a list of some of the most interesting ones:

Movies filmed in Tennessee

The Matrix (1999)

This sci-fi movie about breaking free from a simulated reality was the second one directed by the Wachowski brothers, and our first introduction to Neo, AKA Thomas Anderson, a computer programmer, played by Keanu Reeves. It won four Oscars, including Best Visual Effects. Some of the United States filming locations included Nashville.

Days of Thunder (1990)

This sportscar racing drama had Tom Cruise in the driver’s seat (literally) with Nicole Kidman, Robert Duvall, and a host of others supporting. Although it was criticized for being Top Gun with cars, the film found success at the box office. Scenes were filmed at racing tracks all over the United States, including Bristol Motor Speedway.

Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)

This musical biopic detailed the life of Loretta Lynn, famed country music singer. It was based on her 1976 biography by George Vecsey. Sissy Spacek was chosen specifically by the singer to play her and won an Oscar for her performance. While Lynn was from Kentucky and much of it takes place there, there were some scenes done in Nashville.

21 Grams (2003)

Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro, and Charlotte Gainsbourg starred in this crime drama about how one car accident affects the lives of several different people in several different ways. The story’s setting is never explicitly mentioned, but some scenes were filmed in Memphis. It was director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2nd movie.

The Green Mile (1999)

Frank Darabont (of The Shawshank Redemption) both wrote and directed this Tom Hanks-led adaptation of Stephen King’s 1996 novel. It tells the story of a Louisiana prison whose newest inmate seems not only innocent of the crime he is in for but also very special. Many scenes were done in Tennessee, including the use of the state prison in Nashville.

The People Vs. Larry Flynt (1996)

This biopic about the owner of Hustler magazine and his rise, fall, and legal woes had Woody Harrelson in the lead role with Edward Norton and Courtney Love in supporting roles. The film details his early beginnings selling moonshine all the way up to his continued courtroom battles (and shooting). Some filming locations included Memphis.

The Evil Dead (1981)

Director Sam Raimi’s 2nd film, this horror movie was the first in the cult classic series about a book that unleashes an onslaught of demons looking for bodies to possess. Bruce Campbell is Ash, the lone survivor of the first movie as well as the face of the rest. The cabin, where a majority of the film was set, was in Morristown.

The Firm (1993)

The first John Grisham novel adapted for a movie, this thriller starred Tom Cruise, Gene Hackman, and Jeanne Tripplehorn. Mitch McDeere is a newly-graduated lawyer who momentarily loses (and must rediscover) his moral compass when he is hired at a Memphis law firm. Filming was done there as well as other states and the Cayman Islands.

US Marshals (1998)

This crime thriller was a spin-off of 1993’s The Fugitive, but instead of following Harrison Ford’s Dr. Richard Kimble, this story involves another fugitive (Wesley Snipes), with Tommy Lee Jones reprising his role as Deputy Marshal Sam Gerard. Parts of the movie were set in Memphis, with filming locations there and at Reelfoot Lake.

The Last Castle (2001)

This action movie was about inmates in a maximum-security prison who are fed up with the injustices at the hands of their warden. It starred Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo, and James Gandolfini. Despite these big names, the film ended up performing poorly at the box office. Filmmakers used the state prison in Nashville for filming.

Identity Thief (2013)

When Diana (Melissa McCarthy) steals the identity of Sandy (Jason Bateman), she quickly realizes she may have bit off more than she can chew on this one, as Sandy leaves Denver for Florida to find her. As the film involves a road trip, there were many filming locations in several different states and towns, including Chattanooga.

Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)

Remember when Miley Cyrus had her Disney Channel alter ego Hannah Montana, who was an alter ego herself? In this comedy film, Miley’s father (Billy Ray Cyrus) sends her back to their hometown after he sees stardom getting to her head. The film was mostly set in fictional Crowley Corners, with scenes done in Columbia, Nashville, and Franklin.

At Close Range (1986)

Sean Penn’s 10th movie, and his brother Chris’s 8th, this crime film had them portraying the sons of Brad Whitewood Sr. (Christopher Walken), a long-time criminal. It was based on a real crime family and real events that took place in Pennsylvania in the 1960s and 70s. Filmmakers used locations in Franklin and Spring Hill for shooting.

October Sky (1999)

This biopic details the true story of Homer H. Hickham, Jr., who goes from coal miner’s son to NASA engineer after he proves his skills at rocket building. It starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, and Laura Dern. Although the story was set in West Virginia, filming was done all over Tennessee, including Petros, Wartburg, and Knoxville.

Ernest Goes To Camp (1987)

The second film in the Ernest series starring Jim Varney, this one took him to Kamp Kikakee, where he works maintenance, but dreams of being a camp counselor. But when his wish comes true, it turns out it’s much harder work than he expected. Shots were done at Montgomery Bell State Park in Burns as well as Fairview and Nashville.

Hustle and Flow (2005)

John Singleton’s fifth movie as a producer, this drama was about a hustler (Terrence Howard) who has bigger dreams of becoming a rapper. The story took place in Memphis, with scenes done there exclusively. Supporting actors included Anthony Anderson, Taraji P. Henson and rapper Ludacris. It won an Oscar for Best Original Song.

In the Heat of the Night (1967)

Years before the 1988-1992 TV show, it was a film. And that film was based on John Ball’s 1965 novel. Starring Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, the movie was about a homicide inspector from Philadelphia who gets caught up in a murder in Mississippi. It won five Oscars, including Best Picture. Filming locations included Dyersburg.

The 16th state to enter the Union is much more than just music and movies, though. It has the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most popular National Park in the US, which it shares with North Carolina. There are also close to 4000 caves within its borders, along with Cherokee National Forest, 15 state forests. and 54 state parks.

Aside from music, their other main industries are mining, uranium, and farming. In fact, over 40% of its 42,181 square miles is actually farmland. And within those farms, it’s soybeans that are the most planted crop.

Tennessee is an ideal place for music lovers and filmmakers, and since the two can so easily go hand-in-hand, there are sure to be a lot more films coming out of this Southern state in the future.