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13 Great Movies To Watch That You Forgot Were Based in Philly

By Madison Duddy | December 18, 2020 | Culture


Spend your upcoming weekend exploring Philadelphia without ever leaving your couch. From dramas to rom-coms and everything in between, many of the world’s biggest celebrities have filmed movies right here in the City of Brotherly Love.

Rocky Series

Young Sylvester Stallone, lots of muscles, seat-gripping action and local landmarks make the Rocky series iconic. Watch the boxer run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and see him propose to Adrian at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Creed I and II

If you are craving more Rocky, watch Balboa train Donnie Johnson (Michael B. Jordan)—the illegitimate son of Apollo Creed—for a fight against the world light heavyweight champion and a battle for the World Heavyweight Title. These movies capture some of the most memorable Philly spots, too, like Laurel Hill Cemetery, Johnny Brenda’s, Max’s Steaks and Schuylkill Banks Boardwalk.

In Her Shoes

Drama and romance come together in this early 2000s flick with Cameron Diaz (Maggie) and Toni Collette (Rose). The well-known actresses play sisters, who are polar opposites and struggle with their mother’s untimely death. Countless Philadelphia settings include DiBruno Bros., Jamaican Jerk Hut, Rittenhouse Square and the Art Museum steps.


Easily one of the best-known films shot in Philly, the 1993 movie earned star Tom Hanks an Oscar. Bruce Springsteen also won a statue for his original song “Streets of Philadelphia.” Hanks plays Andrew Beckett, a high-profile lawyer whose life as a gay man with HIV sparks a legal battle at his firm. The University of Pennsylvania Fine Arts Library and City Hall are two of the most recognizable locations.

Silver Linings Playbook

David O. Russell created the ultimate feel-good film when directing Silver Linings Playbook. The flick showcases Philadelphia’s western suburbs with scenes at Ridley Park, Lansdowne and Upper Darby. Featuring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro, the romantic comedy tells the story of Pat Solitano Jr., a man with bi-polar disorder, and a widow, Tiffany Maxwell, who he enlists to help him win back his wife. You’ll also spot Jeweler’s Row and Benjamin Franklin House.


Philadelphia Eagles fans, this one's for you. Brad Gann’s 2006 sports drama Invincible tells the story of 1970s Eagles wide receiver Vince Papale (Mark Wahlberg). Take a visual trip to the Veterans Stadium, University of Pennsylvania’s Franklin Field and the famous Pat’s Steaks.

Trading Places

Get ready to laugh when watching street hustler Billy Ray Valentine (Eddie Murphy) switch lives with wealthy commodities broker Louis Winthorpe III (Dan Aykroyd). Showcasing Center City in the ‘80s, iconic spots like Rittenhouse Square, Fidelity Bank and the Clothespin Sculpture on Market Street flash across the movie screen.


Starring Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall, this campy 1987 romantic comedy follows Philadelphia artist Jonathan Switcher, who falls in love with a mannequin (Cattrall) at the department store where he works. Filming mainly took place at the famous department store Wanamaker’s (now Macy’s) and also features scenes at the recently shuttered Napoli Pizza on East Passyunk Avenue.

The Sixth Sense

M. Night Shyamalan is one of Pennsylvania’s greatest filmmakers, and his chilling thriller, The Sixth Sense, was his debut project. With spooky scenes at the 173-year-old St. Augustine Church and the historic Peirce College, the flick follows Philadelphia child psychologist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) and his new patient Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), who can see ghosts.


Based on Toni Morrison's 1987 novel Beloved, the film is about a former slave after the American Civil War. Starring actors like Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover and Kimberly Elise, the film contains shots of Lancaster and Chester counties, including the Landis Valley Museum and a historic arena, the Philadelphia Convention Hall and Civic Center.

12 Monkeys

What better time than now to get reacquainted with Terry Gilliam’s futuristic flick about a deadly virus outbreak set in 2035. Terry Gilliam’s film stars Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt and includes locations like Eastern State Penitentiary and the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

A sequel to 2007's Transformers, Sam (Shia LaBeouf) and Mikaela (Megan Fox) set out to stop Optimus Prime and the Autobots from making Earth their home all while navigating UPenn’s campus, the old Bethlehem Steel site and the Delaware Power Plant.


As a sequel to Unbreakable and Split, M. Night Shyamalan brings us the psychological hero thriller Glass. Mainly shot at Allentown State Hospital, the movie follows superhuman and vigilante David Dunn who ends up imprisoned in Raven Hill Memorial Mental Institute with his future enemy and global terrorist Mr. Glass. Aside from the hospital, look out for gorgeous shots of the Center City skyline from Fairmount Park, as well as 30th Street Station and Stephen Starr’s Parc.

Tags: movies

Photography by: Denise Jans on Unsplash