Hollywood South : Long Beach in Films and Television

Long Beach, California has more than one claim to fame. We’re the seventh largest city in California and one of the world’s largest ports. Long Beach is home to an airport, a state university, the Grand Prix and the Queen Mary. But not many people know that this city is also a popular filming spot, with classic films and television shows using Long Beach as a backdrop. 

‘American Pie’ (1991), the insanely quotable movie was filmed right here in Long Beach. ‘East Great Falls High’ interiors were shot at Long Beach Polytechnic High School located at 1600 Atlantic Ave. at PCH and the exterior is Robert Milikan Senior High School at 2800 Snowden Ave. 

Will Ferrell’s ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy’ (2004) was filmed outside of the International Tower building off of Ocean Boulevard. If you watch the hilarious scene between the Channel 4 News Team and Evening News, you’ll recognize the familiar backdrop of Shoreline Dr. 

2000’s ‘ Gone in 60 Seconds’ with Nicolas Cage features a beloved local bar, Joe Jost’s off of Anaheim St and the 2016 Oscar winner ‘La La Land’ used Long Beach’s Rose Towers, built in 1928, as Mia’s home. ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks the Squeakquel’ (2009) filmed scenes at Woodrow Wilson Classical High School transforming their lobby and gym into a set fit for the tiny rodent trio. 

In 2010’s ‘Inception’, characters drive a van off of a very familiar bridge – the Commodore Schuyler F. Helm’s Draw Bridge that connects Long Beach to Terminal Island and ‘Pirates of the Carribean : Stranger Tides’ (2011) also used Long Beach as a set. The HMS surprise, usually docked in San Pedro, was transformed into Barbossa’s Providence while in our waters. 

Does anyone else remember the 2004 rom-com ‘A Cinderella Story’ starring Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray? ‘Fiona’s Cafe’, which plays an important role in the film, is actually George’s 50’s diner, located at 4390 Atlantic Ave. Ferris Bueller’s house isn’t in Chicago, it’s right here in Long Beach at 4160 Country Club Dr. You can drive by but please don’t disturb the homeowners. 

With the palm trees, sandy beaches and long stretches of ocean, Long Beach’s Belmont Shore and Peninsula area makes a perfect backdrop for Miami, Florida. ‘Dexter’ is set in the Sunshine State but the titular character’s home is actually on 1st St and Long Beach’s very own Broadway Donuts makes a few appearances on the show. Shows such as ‘Criminal Minds’, ‘Numbers’ and ‘CSI: Miami’ have also filmed here. 

‘True Blood’ used Alex’s Bar on Anaheim St as the popular vampire bar Fangtasia and Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School stood in for William KcKinley High school on Fox’s hit show ‘Glee.’ Before finding a home on the CW, ‘Supergirl’ was on CBS for its first season and filmed in Southern California. Filming locations took place in Downtown Long Beach and Mayor Robert Garcia even paid a visit to the Girl of Steel.

By Casey N. Wilson