Ask Hamilton – Movies Filmed in Chattanooga

Movies Filmed in Chattanooga

 

Trains such as this one (above) from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum have appeared in many films, most notably Water for Elephants (2011). 

 

Photos Courtesy of the Chattanooga Public Library and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum

 

……….

 

Dear Hamilton,

I’m a huge movie addict and watch several films a week, but I’d really like to find some movies that were filmed in or around Chattanooga. Can you help point me in the right direction? I’m getting my popcorn ready and looking forward to your response.

Thanks,

Movie Buff on the Bluff

 

Engel Stadium in Chattanooga

Engel Stadium (above) appeared in 42 (2012), a film about Jackie Robinson. 

 

Dear Movie Buff,

Although it has been a while since film crews have come to town, Chattanooga has indeed had some time in the spotlight. Back in 2012, our city was the site of the filming of 42, the story of the struggles and rise to fame of world-renowned Black baseball great Jackie Robinson. This movie was filmed at our very own Engel Stadium.

Around that same time, the Chattanooga skyline was used as a stand-in for the St. Louis cityscape in the Hollywood flick Identity Thief. This blockbuster, starring Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy, follows a man as he goes after the woman who stole his identity. Although the skyline scene was filmed locally from helicopters whizzing over the Tennessee River downtown, the footage is superimposed with the famous St. Louis Arch and used to represent that city, not ours. However, if you’re particularly attentive, you can just make out the Market Street Bridge before it morphs into the St. Louis horizon.

Perhaps the most renowned movie filmed here in Chattanooga -– both due to the film’s success and its positive impact on the city -– is 2011’s Water for Elephants, about an ex-veterinary student (Robert Pattinson) who joins the circus and becomes romantically involved with the ringmaster’s wife (Reese Witherspoon). Production crews worked diligently in town for two weeks, pouring $1 million into the local economy by supporting Chattanooga businesses and hiring residents to help with behind-the-scenes tasks, such as building sets. In fact, two local boys even landed a role in the film. One of the trains that appeared in the movie, along with three miles of railroad track, came from the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. In addition, multiple sightings of the film’s lead, Pattinson, were rumored at several local hot spots. 

 

The Market Street Bridge

 The Market Street Bridge (right) and the Chattanooga skyline were used to portray the St. Louis cityscape in the movie Identity Thief (2013).

 

Speaking of the railroad museum, it has been in numerous films over the years, including October Sky (1999), The Adventures of Ociee Nash (2003), Heavens Fall (2004), and the 1971 Fools’ Parade with Jimmy Stewart, among many others.

Forces of Nature (1999), starring Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck, was also filmed, in part, in Chattanooga, as was the football flick Leatherheads (2008) with George Clooney and Renée Zellweger.

Tennessee has a starring role in the film Starman (1984), with many scenes shot in our great state. In this film, Jeff Bridges portrays an alien who personifies a woman’s deceased husband come back to life, and he and the man’s widow set off on a dramatic cross-country drive. The scene in the beginning of the movie, when the alien spaceship crashes, was shot at Prentice Cooper State Forest, just outside Chattanooga. Shortly after that in the movie, the duo stop to fill up at an old Amoco gas station, which has since been torn down but was originally located at exit 105 off of I-24 in nearby Manchester. The motel you see in a later scene is allegedly an old Holiday Inn out on Highway 41 in Lookout Valley. And you know that big Tennessee-Alabama Fireworks store out in South Pittsburg, on US-72, about 30 minutes from the city? Well, that’s where the movie’s big deer-resurrection scene was filmed.

With Chattanooga appearing in that many movie scenes, they don’t call us the Scenic City for nothing! 

Happy watching, Movie Buff!

Hamilton Bush

Resident History Hound

Chattanooga, Tennessee 

You Also Might Like

On the Map 2022
black and white world map

Area High School Alumni Take on the World These graduates have accomplished incredible things and enjoyed great successes since their Read more

Ask Hamilton – The Lookout Inn
The Lookout Inn circa 1890

A Luxury Hotel on Lookout   (Above) A view of the Inn’s wing and wrap-around porch, circa 1890   Photos Read more

Working in the City: Burlaep Print & Press
screen printed t-shirts from Burlaep Print & Press

For the Love of the Outdoors When a couple of college students started a small-scale fundraising venture in their free Read more

Morning Pointe Senior Living Celebrates 25 Years of Service
two elderly ladies at Morning Point

Raising the Bar in Senior Care Transitioning a loved one into assisted living can be a wearisome process for all Read more

Working in the City: I Go Tokyo
interior of I Go Tokyo boutique in Chattanooga

From Tokyo With Love Traveling to distant countries for a living would be a dream for many people. When Margaret Read more

Ask Hamilton – The W Road
Waldon's ridge on a postcard from the 1890s

The History of Walden's Ridge and the W Road   (Above) Postcard of Walden’s Ridge: “Along the Dixie Highway,” circa Read more