Film frontier: Pittsburgh in the movies

By Nick Mullen & Jack Trainor / Culture Staff

Hollywood is beginning to discover the City of Bridges as the next city of movie sets.

In recent years, Pittsburgh has served as a blue-collar backdrop for a multitude of notable films and genres, from bloody horror to coming-of-age dramas. With Pennsylvania’s film tax incentive laws, active since July 2004, filmmakers can receive a 20 percent tax cut if 60 percent of their project’s production happens in state, making the ‘Burgh fit forscene spotting.

The Pitt News mapped some of the city’s most memorable cameos to date.


Kennywood: The famous Pittsburgh amusement park was the main setting for this comedy-drama starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. James (Eisenberg) plays a recent college graduate, who, instead of traveling over the summer, must take a job in the games department of Adventureland, a run-down amusement park, where he meets and falls in love with Emily (Stewart).

16th Street Bridge: After Emily finds out that James has fallen for her, the two share a kiss under the 16th Street Bridge by the Strip District as “Pale Blue Eyes” by the Velvet Underground plays in the background.


Petersen Events Center: In this sports drama about two brothers fighting in a mixed martial arts tournament, Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy rumble in the Pete, throwing punches and landing blows against each other surrounded by an arena crowd full of extras, including many Pitt students.

“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”

Schenley High School: The neglected and abandoned former Schenley High School in North Oakland came back to life as the high school of the coming-of-age characters in the film. Many of the items in the school, like posters and newsletters, were actually left over from the school’s final year of operation in 2008.

“The Dark Knight Rises”

Carnegie Mellon Institute/Fifth Avenue: Carnegie Mellon Institute on Fifth Avenue served as Gotham City Hall for a fight between Batman and the muscle-bound Bane. The all-out brawl consumed Fifth Avenue and the towering columns of the building, where it was then the stage of a huge explosion.

Heinz Field: Director Christopher Nolan recruited former Steeler Hines Ward to cameo as part of the Gotham Rogues in his home stadium, in which he runs a kick-off back for a touchdown as the field collaspes behind him. Following Ward’s score, in one of the most iconic scenes of the movie, Bane delivers a villainous speech about Gotham’s pending fate in front of Heinz’s mustard-yellow seats.

“The Silence of the Lambs”

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum: One of the most iconic movies to be filmed in the city, Soldiers and Sailors stars in this classic thriller as Memphis Town Hall, where Lester (Anthony Hopkins) dramatically escapes from his holding cell in the grand ballroom of the building.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”

Fort Pitt Bridge: Often praised as one of the most scenic ways to enter a city, the Fort Pitt Bridge and Pittsburgh’s stunning skyline come into dramatic focus as the characters drive through the tunnel onto the bridge, as Sam (Emma Watson) stands in the back of the pickup truck taking in the spectacular view.

Upper St. Clair House: Set in one of Pittsburgh’s most affluent suburbs, Upper St. Clair, Charlie’s house was the setting for many scenes in the coming-of-age film. The students also attend fictional Mill Grove High School, locally known as Peters Township High School in McMurray, a neighboring suburb.

“Zack and Miri Make a Porno”

Gladstone Middle School and Prospect Middle School: While Monroeville High School exists only in the world of “Zack and Miri,” closed and dilapidated Gladstone Middle School in Hazelwood provided the exterior shots, and closed but historic Prospect Middle School in Mt. Washington provided the interior scenes.

Strip Mall (Bean-n-Gone): The fictional Bean-N-Gone coffee shop, where Zack (Seth Rogen) works when not aspiring to be an amateur hockey player, was filmed in an empty strip mall storefront in Monroeville, which later became home to Honeymoon Chinese Restaurant.

“Dawn of the Dead”

Monroeville Mall: Perhaps one of the most famous movie locations in Pittsburgh, the Monroeville Mall stars as the central location in “Dawn of the Dead.” The characters in the film hide from zombies by blocking the entrances and enjoy the benefits of being trapped in a shopping mall during a zombie apocalypse. While the fictional shopping mall contains a rooftop hideout, the actual mall doesn’t, and those scenes take place in a warehouse in downtown Pittsburgh.


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