I tried to find out the most famous movie locations in New Jersey. Why?
When you think about major cities that have acted as filming locations, we all tend to think of the same places. You think Paris, London, NYC and so on.
But unbeknownst to us (me), one of these cities slipped under the radar. The only show or movie that I attached to this place was The Sopranos. Small show, some award consideration too.
Then when I started looking for topics for the blog and I found another great city for feature films. Like The Dark Knight Rises, Ocean’s Eleven (Pitt+Clooney), Goodfellas, The Wrestler.
I am talking about New Jersey. The city separated (cruelly) from New York by the Hudson River.
I hope this acts as a guide for a movie buff in the area. Well, this and Google maps.
The Wrestler filming locations
The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke showed us the unglamorous side of a pro wrestler’s life. It was filmed primarily in the state of New Jersey.
Listening to any wrestling-based podcast will tell you that most of it is unglamorous for almost all the pro-wrestlers.
But when it did come out it was bizarre watching the movie play out the way it did. There was the stuff on TV and then what happened off it.
This movie was filmed in NJ. And I’ll start off with the most glamorous location shown in the movie.
The deli counter at a grocery store. Acme grocery store to be exact. Until it became a Twin city supermarket.
The wrestler worked here while he wasn’t blading and generally hurting himself. A fantastic way to start a locations post.
The wrestler befriends a stripper in this movie and forms the emotional core of the story. They filmed it at a joint called Cheeque’s. Enough said. Great tour guide already.
Then there is another scene where the wrestler and the stripper deepen their relationship by shopping. They do this at Elizabeth avenue.
I’d like to finish off the list with a true icon of New Jersey. One of the boardwalks. It is here that the wrestler reconnects with his estranged daughter.
There are 18 boardwalks in New Jersey, and this post rates them subjectively.
Funnily enough, the HBO show Boardwalk Empire which is based on events that happened in Atlantic City was shot in Brooklyn.
So the Ocean’s 11 cast and crew had a lot of fun traveling from location to location shooting the movie. I assume they did because the movie was awesome.
They shot most of the intro in NJ. This includes the outdoor shots of the prison Danny Ocean is released from right at the start.
This was filmed at East Jersey state prison. And by the end of this scene, we’re already convinced the trip to the movie theater was worth it.
The scene that plays out between Ocean and Brad Pitt’s Rusty, outside the prison, just makes it that much surer.
After which the recruitment starts after the coolest building plan heist. Was it a heist? Let’s say it is. They recruit Bernie Mac’s character from the casino where he works at.
This was shot at the now-closed, ahem, Trump casino and hotel on the boardwalk. Moving on.
FYI, THE shot in front of the fountain was shot in Vegas.
On a semi-related note, the original Ocean’s eleven (not shot in NJ) was sorta kinda full of star power too. A look behind that movie turned out to be a lot more enjoyable than I expected.
School of rock
The Jack Black star-maker School of rock had a failed musician inspiring a bunch of prep school kids to start a band and then own the rest of the movie.
The climactic scene, the battle of the bands, was shot at the Union Country arts center. That’ll be in Irving Street.
The exteriors anyway. The interiors were shot in that other city close by.
Ok, I’m seeing a trend now. The spot that was shot in NJ in the movie was the apartment where De Niro’s character moves into after jail-time.
I’m guessing this was to contrast between his good times, which was all shot in New York. And then to show his fall, they shoot in NJ. Hmmm.
The Dark Knight Rises
Here’s the reason why I started the post in the first place. Turns out, the TDKR crew was globe-trotting like they’ll never globe-trot again.
They did hit NJ for a few of the scenes. The tunnel where Hathaway’s Kyle lures an overconfident Batman to a fruitful conversation with Bane is the Military park station in the city.
Happily, the heavily cut final scene included a bit of New Jersey as well. The place where Commissioner Gordon unveils the Batman statue is shot in Newark City hall.
That’s a pretty good scene to have shot in your city. Hopefully, they got a statue out of it.
If this section here, re-ignited your love of Nolan Batman, there’s a Bane collectible perfect for you. You’ll remember the scene where he makes a muffled, vague speech that was somehow supposed to turn public opinion against Gordon.
And looking at the trend of the scenes actually shot in the city, it should come as no surprise that the Joker movie is set in NJ. The film to humanize the maniacal prince of crime. Coming to cinemas soon, at the time of writing.
In the trailer for the Joaquin Phoenix-starrer, shots of Newark City Hall and market street can be spotted.
I’m gonna bet these are the scenes where they show the Joker’s most, let’s say formative, experiences.
So maybe the locations weren’t as glitzy as I hoped they would be. Especially after I saw Goodfellas and Ocean’s on the list of movies shot in NJ.
If movie tourism isn’t reason enough, book a ticket to NJ for the 18 boardwalks that frame the city.
While you’re visiting NYC or something.
Links for movies mentioned in the post:
> Jack Black’s last good movie (I know that’s not true, shut up)
> De Niro’s last good movie (Ok now I’m just making mischief)
> The Dark Knight rises (holding my tongue)