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Weekend Pass

At the movies

Film locations abound in the Pacific Northwest, many readily accessible to the adventurous cinema buff

Published: 02:47PM July 5th, 2012
At the movies

Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

The 1998 film "10 Things I Hate About You," starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, was filmed on location in North Tacoma, including Stadium High School. Scott Hansen/Northwest Guardian

The Pacific Northwest has been home to many movies over the years, including such box office favorites as “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Goonies” and “Say Anything.” No matter if one of your favorites was filmed in the area or you just want to add to your general movie knowledge, many film locations around Western Washington and Northern Oregon are open to visitors, even if just for a walking tour.


The iconic “Sleepless in Seattle” was filmed in Seattle in 1992 with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. The romantic comedy follows two people in a whirlwind romance set up by Hanks’ son in the movie, who calls a radio talk show looking for a new companion for his widowed father. Hanks’ character lives on a houseboat off Westlake Avenue on Lake Union. The home can easily be seen on boat cruises on the lake. Other Seattle filming locations for the romantic comedy include Pike Place Market and Alki Beach Park.

The 1989 film “Say Anything” starred John Cusack as a recent high school graduate who pursues his crush before she leaves for a fellowship across the world. It was primarily filmed in locations in Seattle — the Ballard, Fremont and Wallingford neighborhoods — but also included some in Tacoma. In Fremont you can visit the statue “Waiting for the Interurban” at North 34th Street and Fremont Avenue North, featured in the movie. But movies aren’t the only medium filmed in Emerald City. Numerous TV shows are set in the city, including “Frasier.” While the long running series was mainly filmed in Los Angeles, the show was set in Seattle and the 100th episode was filmed at the Space Needle, Seattle Center and the Elliot Bay Book Company.

Tacoma/Pierce County

More than 20 movies have been filmed in the Tacoma area and surrounding Pierce County. Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger starred in “10 Things I Hate About You,” modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew.” The 1998 production was filmed at a home in North Tacoma as well as Stadium High School. Ledger serenaded Stiles’ character in the football stadium with a heartfelt rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”

Scenes from Sylvester Stallone’s movie “Get Carter” were shot in Tacoma in the late 1990s. Gig Harbor was used as a backdrop in Jennifer Lopez’s 2002 movie “Enough.”

Early this year, an independent film based on the outlaw Jack Black filmed in Tacoma, Port Angeles, Seattle and Snohomish. The movie stars Michael Pitt, most known for his role in the HBO series “Boardwalk Empire.” The movie titled “You Can’t Win” is slated to open in 2013.

Port Townsend, Wash.

Many still regard Richard Gere’s 1982 journey to complete Navy flight school in “An Officer and a Gentleman” a classic. It was filmed in and around Port Townsend, a quaint village on Puget Sound that was a popular tourist destination before the movie made it nationally famous. The military training scenes were mainly filed at nearby Fort Worden State Park. Most of the buildings still stand and the blimp hanger has been converted to a performing arts pavilion. One of the movie’s most dramatic scenes took place at the The Tides Inn, which rents the suite featured in the movie to guests.

Astoria, Ore.

This small waterfront village at the mouth of the Columbia River has been the backdrop for a number of films. Still the most popular, surprisingly, is the 1985 Steven Speielberg production, “The Goonies,” about children on a great adventure to find pirate treasure. Visitors can see the Goonies’ house, but no longer the film set in the cave. Devoted Goonies fans have websites with the addresses of the homes and businesses used for the movie, and the mayor of Astoria has declared June 7 “Official Goonies Day.”

Astoria’s The Astor School served as the school for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movie “Kindergarten Cop.” The movie follows an undercover police detective looking for a drug dealer whose son attends the school where Schwarzenegger is disguised as a teacher. Other filming locations include restaurants at West Mooring Basin.

Other films set in Astoria include “The Ring II,” “Free Willy” and “Into the Wild.” “Men of Honor,” released in 2001, was made in nearby Cathlamet. A Navy diving school was replicated on the Columbia River across from Longview, Wash.


Joint Base Lewis-McChord has served as the backdrop of a number of films, but the most famous are “Battleground” (1949) and “To Hell and Back” (1955). “Battleground” follows a company of Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division during the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, featuring a tank sequence filmed at Fort Lewis in spring 1949.

Both World War II movies were huge hits when they were released. “To Hell and Back” tells the story of Audie Murphy, and the Medal of Honor recipient stars as himself in the film. Parts of the film were also shot at Yakima Training Center.