As 2016 comes towards a close and the final credits for the year are about to roll, Wego.com, the leading travel search site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, reflects on some new destinations that starred in some of this year’s most popular film releases.
Here’s some destinations, and specific filming locations, that took centre stage in 2016:
Doctor Strange, Nepal
With twists of moral crusades and Eastern mysticism, the big action takes place in the Kathmandu Valley with the bustling commercial hub of Thamel and the gold-tipped stupas of Swayambhunath as a backdrop. The UNESCO-attested Pashupatinath Temple also featured heavily.
The film’s star, Benedict Cumberbatch, spoke of how filming on location in Nepal provided him with a detail he wouldn’t otherwise been able to achieve, shifting his mindset into the world of the mystical and strange.
The Revenant, Canada
The visceral and raw western, frontier vibe come alive amongst the peaks of Kananaskis Country which is part of the Canadian Rockies, near Calgary. Other scenes were shot at the Indian reserve at Stoney Nation and the Fortress Mountain Resort, just down the road from the beautiful Banff ski resorts.
Global warming was cited as a reason for the completion of the film shoot moving south to the ice fields of Argentina.
The Legend of Tarzan, Gabon
Not quite as wild as viewers might expect, the 2016 remake was shot mainly at the Warner Bros. Studios in Hertfordshire, England. A huge 100 foot collapsible pier and a working, tropical waterfall were created in the sound stages, however a six week session of filming did take place in Gabon in Central Africa.
For those inspired to seek out the real jungle experience visit the wilds of the Minkébé National Park to see gorillas and mountain elephants in some of the last remaining virgin rainforest in this part of Africa.
Hell or High Water, New Mexico
An acclaimed, modern-day western that premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, the film was set in West Texas but largely filmed in New Mexico. Scenic shots were filmed in the Alamogordo Valley, where the shifting dunes of the White Sands National Monument meet the cacti-spotted cottonwoods and plains of the Rio Grande rift.
Other scenes were in Guadalupe County and the state’s other more rustic locations – many of which retain the feel and atmosphere of the old west.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople, New Zealand
We know the beauty of New Zealand well as the backdrop for the Lord of the Rings films, and in this film local director Taika Waititi does its natural beauty great justice.
Filmed mostly in the North Island Volcanic Plateau and the Waitakere Ranges near Auckland. The Plateau is where you’ll find the gushing geysers and mud pools of the Taupo Volcanic Zone and the outdoorsy town of Rotorua, with the Hobbiton movie set close by.
Waitakere Ranges are lined with majestic black sand beaches and famed surfing spots, Te Henga and Piha. Its hills are also the location of the 77 km Hillary Trail, named in honour of Edmund Hillary; the first man (and New Zealander) to climb Mt Everest.
The backcountry featured in this sci-fi western include the breathtaking vistas of the quintessential American west – hoodoos, canyons and red-hued tabletop mountains.
Most notable locations include Fisher Valley and Castle Valley, northeast of Moab. The first is famed for the rugged Fisher Tower; tall pillars of rock that look a little like creatures and strange objects.
Castle Valley is known for its ribbed, rock bluffs and red, rocky mountains that resemble giant natural castles.
Manchester by the Sea, New England
With the somewhat haunting atmosphere of New England, filming was undertaken in the towns of Gloucester and Salem.
It’s an historical area and Gloucester exudes an authentic artsy vibe and is filled with galleries. On the town’s outskirts is the awesome Hammond Castle.
Salem is well known thanks to its witching history, and was also the setting for Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible. Home to the timber House of the Seven Gables made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel of the same name.
You can take tours related to witchcraft and visit the Pioneer Village deep in the woods; America’s first living museum that recreates the life of Puritans and the first English settlers on the coast.
With an already elevated profile thanks to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which featured Iceland’s stunning countryside, Rams was filmed on location in the remote northern valley of Bárðardalur.
Mother nature is harsh and beautiful in this quiet, rural region – visit the breathtaking Goðafoss, a 12 meter dramatic waterfall and watch the awesome Northern Lights dance across the sky.
Eyjafjördur Fjord carves its way inland from the sea, and the coastal city of Akureyri is filled with cozy cafes and seafood eateries.
Love & Friendship, Dublin
Filmed just outside of Dublin, Donabate, a small coastal town in Fingal was the backdrop for this 18th century romance, with its hearty country pubs and stunning cliff walks.
Newbridge Estate was the primary filming location with its Georgian architecture, regal gardens and the ancestral home of the Cobbe family. It’s also where the famed Cobbe portrait of Shakespeare was found – said to be the last remaining image of the bard.
La La Land, Los Angeles
Possibly one of the most location-filled films on the list, La La Land featured a whopping 60 individual filming locations to breathe a real sense of authenticity into the movie.
The reasonably far flung reaches of the Hollywood Hills and Santa Monica Mountains were included which ensures a good view of the famed Hollywood sign. Cultural centre Pasadena and the striking Colorado Street Bridge also feature.
The urban ruggedness of Angels Flight, a disused funicular railway in Bunker Hill provides some contrast, and there’s a metaphor-loaded moment when Gosling and Stone (the film’s leads) ascend to the stars, which was suitably filmed at the Griffith Observatory.