Lots of movies are filmed in Orange County. California in general, thanks to the presence of a little place called Hollywood, is a natural location for shooting a feature-length film. Orange County is no exception; here are some Orange County film locations you’re bound to see on the silver screen or on your favorite streaming platform.
Beaches starred Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey, and features scenes shot at Laguna and Crystal Cove. Some sources report that fans of the beach house scenes can make their way to what was at one time designated as Cottage #13 in the Crystal Cove Historic District in Crystal Cove State Park in California.
The Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana appears in the Tom Hanks / Leonardo DiCaprio feature, Catch Me If You Can, and it’s a popular location for film crews. Plenty of other films have made use of this location including Gideon’s Trumpet, Frances, Legally Blonde, and the TV show American Horror Story.
Barry Levinson’s Rain Man ends at Orange County’s Santa Ana Train Station. The train station at 1000 E. Santa Ana is used as a stand-in for a Los Angeles location when Tom Cruise sees Dustin Hoffman off at the conclusion of the film.
This film made a weird bit of California history when the infamous Jerry Maguire Pyramid performance art project launched; this is a multi-year art project with a proposed location in Los Angeles by the collective known as Everything Is Terrible!
The project, the Jerry Maguire Pyramid, includes a goal to create a “desert pyramid” where “every Jerry Maguire” VHS tape is meant to be fashioned into a pyramid to “rise up from the desert”. This idea was promoted in part by the collective’s East L.A. Everything Is Terrible Video Store, which made headlines in 2019 for opening a VHS store of any kind in the 21st century.
Watching the movie itself, the Tom Cruise vehicle features Orange County area locations including the John Wayne Airport and Newport Beach Fashion Island. But if you are planning trips to see those locations, you likely owe yourself a look at an Everything Is Terrible video, too.
Irvine features the ultra-modern look of Masimo corporate offices, which was apparently well-suited for the location scouts working on the 2008 Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man film.
The interiors at Masimo are popular with directors looking for a specific look; the company acquired the glass-front 200,000-plus square-foot building from a Japanese company for $56 million, so today’s Masimo employees there likely weren’t present during the filming back in 2008.
The first film in the modern franchise, The Fast and The Furious includes scenes shot in Westminster’s Little Saigon. Motorbike scenes, some local color (shot in the Vietnamese Cultural Court on Bolsa Avenue) while a rival gang’s “getaway” is further down on Bolsa.
This franchise should not be confused with the Roger Corman 1956 film of the same name. And speaking of Roger Corman…
The original 1975 Roger Corman film Death Race 2000 includes scenes shot at the Chet Holifield Federal Building on Avila Road in Laguna Niguel. Originally built for a defense industry corporation but never occupied by it, this location has been repurposed as a courthouse for the Southern District of California. You can also see this building in Outbreak from 1995 starring Dustin Hoffman and Renee Russo.
2014’s Bradley Cooper vehicle American Sniper includes scenes filmed in Orange County at the Seal Beach Pier.
This Tom Hanks film was shot in part in Olde Towne Plaza and Orange Circle. Scenes were shot at Mr. C’s Records and Watson Drugs and Soda Fountain.
Even a big major studio flop can feature impressive architecture. Tustin Hangars, the former Marine Corps Air Station, is featured in the Ben Affleck World War Two financial disaster, Pearl Harbor. This movie flopped so badly at the box office that the head of Disney (the studio responsible for this turkey) quit soon after. Tustin Hangars can also be seen in JAG, Star Trek, and Austin Powers.
Parts of Stephen Soderberg’s Ocean’s 11 were shot at the University of California in Irvine. The specific film location, Gillespie Neuroscience Research Facility, served as a set for the ensemble caper movie but this production did not interfere with daytime classes; it was an approach similar to the one Dawn of the Dead director George Romero used when shooting at the now-infamous Monroeville Mall in Pennsylvania.
Romero worked on the bloody epic after all the shops were closed, shooting from dusk till dawn. Likely the Ocean’s 11 sets had far less fake blood and cleanup to accomplish when their shooting day ended at the university than for Romero’s shopping mall scenes…
How much time does it take to film a freeway scene? For the crew of The Hangover III, the answer is two whole days, which is how long the 73 was closed for that particular shoot. The Orange County Register reported at the time that the prep work for that effort took a whopping four months.
Scenes from Gumball Rally were filmed in 1976 at the Orange Circle. Windows in Sir Wickets Men’s Shop were removed and replaced with “candy glass” so motorcycles could crash through it.
This holiday comedy is another movie where scenes were film in Old Towne Orange. Fake snow was placed on sidewalks scenes include walking around the circle and in front of Starbucks.
American Horror Story: Asylum
The Old Orange County Courthouse was the film location used as Briarcliff Manor. The Asylum shown on screen was four stories tall while the actual building stands only three.
The Rocky & Bullwinkle Movie
Chapman University briefly became “Wossamotta U.” Memorial Hall can be seen as a backdrop for scenes. “That Thing You Do” also used Memorial Hall for Scenes.
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion
The façade of the Newport Beach Central Library appeared in this move.
Primarily shot in the Greek Isles some beach scenes were also filmed in Laguna Beach, CA.
A Few Good Men
The U.S Naval Base in this film is set in Guantanamo Bay, but it was actually filmed in the Crystal Cove State Park.
The main court trial in the movie was filmed within and outside of the Old County Courthouse.
The Fast and the Furious
Several scenes from this movie were filmed in Little Saigon including The Cultural Court and the Vietnamese Gate.
IMDB reports that all locations for the film Orange County were shot in Los Angeles. This may seem either hilariously ironic (and accidental), or the result of poor planning.
Some associated with the film say budget requirements and movie studio restrictions may have been responsible for this. At least one person associated with the film went on record saying a few location shots from Orange County may have actually found their way into the film but by and large this movie was shot in Los Angeles.
The list above should not be confused with similar lists of movies shot in Orange County in the State of New York, which includes the following:
- One December Night
- Redemption In Cherry Springs
- The Whale
- Old Man
- The Sixth Reel
- Here Today
- The Winter House
- I’m Thinking About Ending Things
- The Scottish Play
- Blackjack: The Jackie Ryan Story
- Mob Town
- The Irishman
- Ask For Jane
- You’re Not Alone
- A Different Sun
- American Gangster
- Easy Living
- King Cobra
- The Factory
- The App
- Mr. Deeds
- Super Troopers
- Michael Clayton
- Final Destination
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