Arizona’s History in Film

When producing a feature length film, choosing the location for a set can be a daunting task. With bigger budget films Directors often hire multiple location scouts to find the most aesthetically fitting environments to shoot film. Arizona is a state with extremely diverse geography, allowing for many different types of scenes to be filmed without the expense of moving cast and crew long distances. Many directors have filmed in one of Arizona’s deserts or mountainous areas only to subsequently shoot in one of Arizona’s major cities like Mesa, Gilbert or Phoenix for scenes that call for an urban environment.

Make no mistake, however, the state of copper has not only historically been relied on by filmmakers as a cost-saving measure. Due to the jaw-dropping beauty of the state, many historically beautiful moments in film history were shot in Arizona (such as the scene in searchers depicted below).

From The Karate Kid to some of Alfred Hitchcock’s classics, this article is dedicated to some of the most famous (and unexpected) movies to be filmed in Arizona. Below you will find a list of some of the most famous films shot in our state of copper. Read on as you might find one of your favorite movies on this list (we have a couple ourselves).

We hope that by going through this list you were able to gain a greater appreciation for the impact that Arizona has played in filmmaking.

Top 6 Critically Acclaimed Movies Filmed in Arizona

Little Miss Sunshine (2006) While everyone was cheering Olive on at her beauty pageant competition after her family’s ruthless journey from New Mexico to California, not many people know that the scenes that supposedly took place in “New Mexico” were actually filmed throughout Arizona, with Phoenix being some of the most prolific.

Psycho (1960) Areas in downtown Phoenix served to film much of the B-Roll, as well as the opening scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s’ 1960 thriller “Psycho”. The 1915 Barrister Place building, famous for its cameo in Psycho, was purchased by <development firm Davis Enterprises> in 2014 and is now in the process of being converted into a condominium complex.

War of The World’s (1953) It’s Coming! Filling the screen with a Mighty Panorama of Earth-Shaking Fury! Although the film’s plot takes place in Los Angeles, a majority of the scenes in this 1953 classic were filmed in Arizona. In fact, the scene where the Aliens first attack our beloved planet was filmed entirely in downtown Phoenix Arizona.


Scottsdale Arizona Resort from Raising Arizona Film

A resort featured in the film “Raising Arizona”

Raising Arizona (1987) Unironically, a majority of the scenes in this film were shot in the titular Arizona. The “Short Stop Grocery Store” which was a regular target of robbery by the main character McDunnough is now a Circle-K in Scottsdale, and the “Maricopa County Maximum Security Correctional Facility For Men” which McDunnough was regularly sent throughout the film was actually one of Phoenix, Arizona’s water treatment facilities 24th Street Water Treatment Plant, North 24th Street, Phoenix, AZ.

The Cardinal’s training facility featured in Jerry Maguire

Jerry Macguire (1996) This endearing film about a sports management agent (played by a young Tom Cruise) and his attempt to implement a philosophy of hard work and honesty into a dirty industry had several major scenes filmed in and around Phoenix. The Pre-2015 Renovation Arizona Cardinals Training Facility playing an important role in several scenes of the film.

Everything Must Go (2010) 2010 Everything must go was shot entirely in Scottsdale and Phoenix Arizona; and the director of the film worked deeply with the Phoenix community hiring many Arizona natives to take minor roles in the film.