What does The Godfather, Ocean’s 11 and Rocky movies have in common? Yes, they were all filmed throughout Las Vegas.
Nevada is well known as a popular place for filmmakers, due to not only the iconic sites of Las Vegas Boulevard, the majestic hotels and the active nightlife, but also because of its friendly permit service, making it budget friendly. Directors well understand that you can’t simply recreate Las Vegas on a Hollywood backlot, so many award winning and cult like movies are shot here throughout the year. Some of the favorites include top grossing films that fans flock to see where their favorite scenes were filmed.
Over and over, Caesar’s Palace is used in films, including some of the recent blockbusters that have made this Las Vegas resort hip again with a new generation (see below).
“The Hangover,” the 2009 movie starring Bradley Cooper was set here and actual scenes were filmed in the lobby, outside main entrance, pools and the 24th floor of the Augustus Tower.
NOTE: the actual hotel room was filmed on a soundstage, and not in Las Vegas, due to the fact that tigers were not allowed in hotel rooms. Other spots filmed for this movie include, Wild Wild West Hotel in room 825 (where Jade meets up with Phil, Stu and Alan), an empty lot at Mandalay Bay and Giles Road, East Fremont Street (where the boys drive to return Mike Tyson’s tiger), Riviera Hotel and Casino, (the Rainman reenactment scene), and the dry lake bed in Jean, Nevada (where the wrong Doug is delivered).
This 2001 remake stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon among other big stars. The Bellagio Hotel is actually one of the main characters in the film, so it is used widely throughout. The entrance, fountains, the Botanic Gardens, as well as the Picasso Restaurant were all showcased.
The Grand Staircase of the Bellagio, where Julia Roberts walks down in a classic scene, has since been removed according to the the Nevada Film Office.
Other Las Vegas sites used in Ocean’s 11 include the MGM Grand Garden Arena, and Sundance Helicopters offices. The Nevada Film Office also reports that the cast as well as the crew were given unprecedented access to the Bellagio Hotel, and could film at any time seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Also, the lead stars stayed at the hotel during filming, each occupying 7,000 square feet villas.
Viva Las Vegas:
Elvis Presley was no stranger to Las Vegas, having headlined at the Hilton through the early 1970’s until his death in 1977. Released over 50 years ago, “Viva Las Vegas” is still considered a classic with a song that is still popular today. While much of the Vegas scenery has changed, including views of the Strip which wasn’t nearly as crowded as it is now, and hotels, many of which are long gone, there are a few spots visitors can see that still look the same, including The Little Church of the West which would still be recognizable to Elvis and Ann Margret, except that it has been moved twice since filming.
Another tidbit: if you find yourself at the Barrick Museum at the University of Las Vegas, you will be standing on the same floor where Ann Margret and Elvis danced in a scene from the movie. When “Viva Las Vegas” was filmed, the museum was the original gymnasium of this university.
Mandalay Bay Hotel, where Rocky’s final fight against Mason Dixon in 2006’s Rocky Balboa, was filmed in the hotel’s sports arena the evening after a real life fight. According to the website, TotalRocky.com, inflatable dummies were scattered about the arena to make the event appear sold out.
The MGM Grand Hotel, which is now Bally’s (not to be confused with the newer MGM,) is where the exhibition fight between Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago was filmed.
This award winning Las Vegas movie, starring Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, Joe Pesci and directed by Martin Scorsese, was released in 1995 and showcased the city 33 times, with many locations you can still see today. Main Street Station, Oscar’s Steakhouse at the Plaza Hotel, Atomic Liquors (also used in the Hangover movie), Piero’s Italian Cuisine (called the Leaning Tower in the movie), and the old Federal Courthouse which is now the Mob Museum, are a few of the places you can visit to get your Casino movie fix.
Other hotels who have a Hollywood history include, The Circus Circus, where “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “Diamonds are Forever,” and “Austin Powers” was filmed. Planet Hollywood was featured in “Knocked Up,” and “Get Him to the Greek,” while Caesar’s Palace was also used in “Rain Man,” “The Electric Horseman” where Robert Redford rode a horse through the casino, the Mel Brook’s classic “History of the World Part 1,” and “Intolerable Cruelty the the Coen Brothers.”