When most people think of things that are iconic to Philadelphia, the film Rocky immediately comes to mind. Released in 1976, the rags-to-riches sports drama about a working-class boxer interweaves the streets, markets, and staircases of Philly into its visual narrative so well that the city itself feels like a character in the movie. But Rocky isn’t the only movie filmed against the backdrop of the City of Brotherly Love. These four silver screen hits also shot on location in Philly.
National Treasure (2004)
This Nicolas Cage action movie features so many Philly hot spots that National Treasure tours became popular in the city after the movie’s release. Of all the historic Philadelphia landmarks Cage’s historian Benjamin Franklin Gates visits, perhaps none is more iconic than the bell tower at Independence Hall.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
This spooky thriller about a boy who can see dead people and the psychologist who helps him come to terms with his paranormal gift was set and shot in Philadelphia, which happens to be director M. Night Shyamalan’s hometown. The church where young Cole (Haley Joel Osment) hides is St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church on 4th Street at New Street, and Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) meets his wife for a dinner date at the Striped Bass on Walnut Street (now a different restaurant called the Butcher and Singer).
Twelve Monkeys (1995)
James Cole (Bruce Willis) volunteers to go back in time to stop a deadly virus from eradicating most of the human population. Assumed to be crazy by the people who encounter him in the past, Cole is placed in a mental institution and must escape in order to fulfill his mission. The movie’s asylum scenes were shot at of the Eastern State Penitentiary, a visually stunning site containing the ruins of one of the most famous prisons in American history.
This moving courtroom drama was not only filmed in Philadelphia but also takes its title from the city’s name. Tom Hanks puts in an Oscar-winning performance as a lawyer who, after being dismissed from his law firm because he is gay and has AIDS, takes his former employers to court for wrongful termination. The iconic courtroom scene that is the centerpiece of the movie was filmed at Philadelphia’s City Hall.