Michigan movie lovers can visit blockbuster sets, locations

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Michigan is home to many movie locations, whether they be out in the natural scenery or in studios. Film crews fly to the Mitten State in search of nature, city backdrops, and everything in between.

Even when films aren’t set in Michigan, outdoor scenes in need of an Ann Arbor-style city or Great Lakes aesthetic require cast and crew to pack up their things and head to the Midwest.


IMAGE /  Mr. Tony Webster / flickr
The small Michigan town of Marquette is the setting of the 1959 film “Anatomy of a Murder.”

Marquette is a northern Michigan city, resting near the coast of Lake Superior. It is the largest city in the Upper Peninsula, with a population of 21,355 recorded in the 2010 census.

The town is the location of the 1959 movie “Anatomy of a Murder,” starring James Stewart, Arthur O’Connell, and Eve Arden.

The movie was filmed and set in Marquette, making featured locations popular tourist attractions for fans of the crime drama.

The film is about small-town lawyer Paul Biegler (Stewart), who is hired to defend Lt. Frederick “Manny” Manion after he is accused of murdering the local innkeeper Bernard “Barney” Quill.

The movie is based on a real trial held in Michigan in 1952. The real defense attorney, John D. Voelker, wrote the novel the film was based upon.

Fans of the film can take guided tours of the city where they can visit the Marquette country courthouse, the Landmark Inn Hotel, the Lumberjack Tavern, and many more sights related to the film and the original crime that inspired it all.

Senior Nick Williams enjoyed watching the movie in his criminology class.

“(I liked it) because it was very interesting to learn about the process of the court,” Williams said. “I feel like it would be fun to visit the actual sets and I love it because it’s cool to have that representation of Michigan.”

Mackinac Island

IMAGE / Mr. David Wilson / flickr
Th Grand Hotel is the main setting of the romance “Somewhere in Time.”

The 1980 romance “Somewhere in Time” was filmed on the island, making use of the famous Grand Hotel.

The movie follows the  love story of playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) and actress Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour).

The plot spans not only the beautiful island landscape, but a timeline between 1912 and the present.

When Collier finds a picture of McKenna, who was a prominent actress at the hotel, he travels back in time to meet her.

The movie is a big tourist attraction for the island, which has an annual “Somewhere in Time” weekend every October.

During the themed weekend, fans can stay at the Grand Hotel, learn about the movie’s production, and meet the cast.

The hotel offers different packages for the weekend, ranging from $1,465 per person for a lake view room to $1,079 for a standard room. Couples packages are offered as well.

Guests also have the opportunity to dress up and delve into the “Somewhere in Time” universe.

Fans of the movie are “invited to make a cameo appearance in costume at various weekend events,” according to the Grand Hotel’s webpage regarding the occasion.

Alumna Emily Harper has spent a summer working on the island, seeing the small details left from the movie that still remain.

“I don’t know much about it, but on the path where I walked to work I passed by the famous gazebo from the movie,” Harper said. “It’s near Anne’s tablet, which is a plaque in the ground.”


IMAGE / Ms. Barabara Eckstein / flickr
The city of Detroit has been featured in many hit films like “Beverly Hills Cop” and “8 Mile.”

The Motor City is featured in many action blockbusters, even if the city is magically turned into New York or Los Angeles in post-production.

Some popular movies are actually set in Detroit, like “Beverly Hills Cop” and “8 Mile.”

Other films like the “Transformers” series use the city environment, despite not making Detroit itself the movie’s setting.

Sites like the Michigan Building, the Renaissance Center, and the Fisher Theatre are all featured in hit films, making Detroit a sought-after filming location.

The Detroit area is also home to many studios where action movies like “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”

Autumn Sears, junior, appreciates the exposure Detroit gets in movies.

“I think it would be worth it to see the sights featured in movies because it highlights different parts of our cities,” Sears said.

Sears does not have a problem with films using the city as a backdrop and not claiming the setting is Detroit.

“I think it’s fine that they film here because lots of movies do that,” Sears said.