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13 movies filmed in the Houston area

Houston
Houston (Pixabay)

What do the movies Boyhood, Brewster McCloud, and Logan’s Run have in common? They were all filmed at least partially right here in Houston.

Here is a handful of motion pictures, some popular and others a tad less widely known, filmed in the Houston area.

Logan’s Run (1976)

This 1970s sci-fi film adapted from a novel of the same name written by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson revolves around a dystopian world in which the remnants of society are so strapped for resources its inhabitants are systematically killed once they reach 30 years of age. While most of its scenes were shot on sound stages in California and on location in and around Houston, some footage for the film was shot at the Hyatt Regency Garden here in Houston.

Notable Houston location: Hyatt Regency Hotel

Brewster McCloud (1970)

Billed as “a different kind of film from the director of M*A*S*H,” Robert Altman’s Brewster MCloud follows its titular character, played by Bud Cort, a boy living in the Houston Astrodome who dreams of building himself a pair of wings. Sally Kellerman stars as his mentor, a mysterious woman with angel-wing scars on her back and Shelley Duvall makes her on-screen debut in the film as an Astrodome tour guide. There’s a serial-killer subplot, a smattering of blatant Wizard of Oz references, a car chase and a last act that crescendos with a circus act. Really, the movie defies explanation. If you haven’t seen it. It’s worth a watch.

Notable Houston location: Astrodome

The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training (1977)

Several scenes of this sequel to Bad News Bears were shot in H-Town. Astros pitcher Bob Watson even made an appearance in the film.

Notable Houston location: Lancaster Hotel

Urban Cowboy (1980)

Urban Cowboy is the unexpected John Travolta film that ushered Texas honky-tonk culture into the national spotlight, launched a craze around mechanical bulls and immortalized the legendary Pasadena honky-tonk Gilley’s, then billed as the world’s largest honky-tonk. Urban Cowboy is adapted from a 1978 Esquire cover story of the same name detailing the rocky romance of two Gilley’s regulars, Dew Westbrook and Betty Helmer, renamed Bud and Sissy in the film and played by John Travolta and Debra Winger.

Notable Houston-area locations: Gilley’s Night Club, 2016 Main

Terms of Endearment (1983)

Loosely based on a book of the same name written by famed Texas author Larry McMurtry, this tearjerker tracks a tumultuous mother-daughter relationship, casting Shirley MacLaine as the mother opposite Debra Winger, as her daughter. Jack Nicholson makes an appearance as a retired astronaut and MacLaine’s love interest. The story is set in Houston and several of its scenes were shot on location in Space City.

The movie received a leading eleven nominations at the 56th Academy Awards, and went on to sweep the show, winning five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress for MacLaine, and Best Supporting Actor for Nicholson.

Notable Houston locations: Brennan’s of Houston, Tootsies

Night Game (1989)

This crime thriller stars Roy Scheider as a former minor league baseball player turned Galveston homicide detective who must solve a series of murders with a Houston Astros connection. The film was shot primarily in Houston and Galveston.

Notable Houston-area locations: Galveston Seawall, Galveston Cotton Exchange, the San Luis Hotel, the Balinese Room, Galveston County Daily News compound, and the Gulf Freeway.

RoboCop 2 (1990)

The sequel to the futuristic thriller RoboCop may be set in Detroit, but it was chiefly filmed in Houston.

Notable Houston locations: Houston City Hall, Jefferson Davis Hospital, Houston Theater District, Cullen Center, George R. Brown Convention Center, TC Energy Center

Reality Bites (1994)

One of the most popular movies about Generation X, the film was Ben Stiller’s directorial debut and starred him alongside Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Janeane Garofalo, and Steve Zahn. Helen Childress, who grew up in the Houston area, wrote the script for this movie based on her and her friends’ experiences.

Notable Houston location: Tranquility Park

Independence Day (1996)

Here’s yet another sci-fi blockbuster that filmed some of its scenes in Space City, specifically the Johnson Space Center.

Notable Houston location: Johnson Space Center

Rushmore (1998)

Texas filmmaker Wes Anerson’s second film pits ambitious prep school student Jason Schwartzman against a middle-aged millionaire Bill Murray for the affections of a beautiful first-grade teacher Olivia Williams. The film is set at Rushmore Academy, a fictionalized version of the director’s own alma mater, the St. John’s School in Houston. The film was shot in and around the school and features several Houston area locales.

Notable Houston locations: North Shore High School, St. John’s School, Lamar High School, Doug’s Barber Shop. Hotel Zaza, the Forest Club, Delmar Stadium

Armageddon (1998)

This doomsday blockbuster starring Bruce Willis was filmed partially in Houston.

Notable Houston locations: Ellington Airport, Johnson Space Center

Boyhood (2014)

Houston-born filmmaker Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is a nearly three-hour coming-of-age story tracking a Texas boy named Mason Jr. from age of six to age 18. The film captures a dozen years of the lives of Mason Jr., played by Austinite Ellar Coltran, Mason’s sister, played by the director’s own daughter Lorelei Linklater and Mason’s parents, played by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. The film sets out to capture the essence of growing up in Texas and its scenes were shot across the state, including in Houston, San Marcos, Austin, Bastrop, Big Bend Ranch State Park and Pedernales Falls State Park.

Notable Houston locations: Minute Maid Park, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Miller Outdoor Theater, University of Houston, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

The third installment in the live-action Transformers film series includes scenes set in Houston’s Johnson Space Center.

Notable Houston location: Johnson Space Center

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What movies would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below.


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