In August of 2019, German blogger Andrea David (@filmtourismus on Instagram) visited Philadelphia to discover the city’s impressive film history and showcase how films influence where people choose to travel. “I always wanted to run up the Rocky steps and discover the places I only knew from the movies by myself, so Philadelphia was on my travel wish list for quite a while,” Andrea told Philadelphia Magazine in an interview.
Using stills from iconic films such as Rocky and The Sixth Sense, Andrea framed the city’s landmarks with their silver screen counterparts, brilliantly highlighting Philadelphia’s many starring roles. She shared her photos in this handy guide of Philadelphia movie locations.
One of the most recognizable Philadelphia-based films (and winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1977), Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky profiles underdog boxer Rocky Balboa as he trains his way towards a bout against champion boxer Apollo Creed. Undeniably the most iconic moment from the film is Rocky’s training montage that takes him throughout the city – passing through the Italian Market, running by the Delaware River Waterfront, along the Schuylkill River Trail, and eventually up the 72 steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Fans can also find Rocky’s home at 1818 Tusculum Street and Adrian’s Restaurant from the Creed films at 1303 Dickinson Street (the current home of the Jazz-centric Victor Café). Mighty Mick’s Boxing Gym, which is where the Italian Stallion spends his time training, can be found at 2147 N Front Street. TIP: Visitors looking to explore all of the Rocky and Creed filming locations should schedule a tour.
The thriller that put Philadelphia-raised director M. Night Shyamalan on the map, The Sixth Sense was filmed entirely in the city of Philadelphia. Many scenes are filmed around the Rittenhouse and Graduate Hospital neighborhoods (look for Bruce Willis’ character’s home along Delancey Place), but one of the film’s recurring locations is St. Augustine’s Church (243 N Lawrence Street) in Old City.
With an affection for his hometown, Shyamalan has filmed the majority of his other projects in the Greater Philadelphia region, including Unbreakable, Split, Glass, The Happening, and The Village.
This science fiction film about time travel stars Bruce Willis beside an up-and-coming Brad Pitt, with portions of the film set in Philadelphia and Baltimore. A trip from the year 2035 to 1990 lands the protagonist Cole (Willis) in a mental hospital where he connects with patient Jeffrey Goines (Pitt). The crumbling walls of the institution are actually those of the historic Eastern State Penitentiary, where gangster Al Capone once served time.
A more recent contribution to Philadelphia’s film repertoire, director David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook stars Jennifer Lawrence and Philadelphia-native, Bradley Cooper. Set in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the film features key scenes at the historic Lansdowne Theater and the Llanerch Diner, both in Delaware County.
Other filming locations include Jeweler’s Row, a parking lot at Lincoln Financial Field, and The Franklin Residences.
Though the time spent in Philadelphia on the show is brief and mainly in the introduction, there is a fleeting glimpse of the Will Smith’s hometown in the iconic intro reel. Roberto Clemente Park in the Fairmount neighborhood features a basketball court that flashes at the beginning of the reel.
Philadelphia has been home to many other productions over the years. Other notable appearances include National Treasure (scenes at Independence Hall, Reading Terminal Market), Shazam! (scenes at LOVE Park, Philadelphia Museum of Art), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (scenes at Eastern State Penitentiary, University of Pennsylvania), and Philadelphia (scenes at City Hall). Recent filming activity in Philadelphia includes 21 Bridges starring Chadwick Boseman and upcoming television series including Netflix’s Queer Eye and Dispatches From Elsewhere.
Cover photo by bklphoto.com for PHBLCVB.