Family, friends and fans lined up outside Tower Theatre in Sacramento on Sunday night (October 30, 2017) for the local premiere of Sacramento-native Greta Gerwig’s autobiographical film “Lady Bird.” She spoke to the audience before and after the film. Tim Swanson/Sacramento Bee Photos by Paul Kitagaki Jr/Video edited by David Caraccio
Family, friends and fans lined up outside Tower Theatre in Sacramento on Sunday night (October 30, 2017) for the local premiere of Sacramento-native Greta Gerwig’s autobiographical film “Lady Bird.” She spoke to the audience before and after the film. Tim Swanson/Sacramento Bee Photos by Paul Kitagaki Jr/Video edited by David Caraccio

Movie News & Reviews

It’s not just ‘Lady Bird’: Here are more movies based or filmed in Sacramento area

By Michael McGough

mmcgough@sacbee.com

October 31, 2017 05:18 PM

UPDATED November 01, 2017 07:57 AM

Already generating Oscar talk and rave reviews, “Lady Bird” has the potential to throw a bit of spotlight on Sacramento when it gets its wide release Friday.

Of course, director Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age comedy-drama – which made its local debut Sunday at Tower Theatre and has maintained a 100 percent “fresh” rating on review site Rotten Tomatoes – is not the first major motion picture to take place or be filmed in California’s capital.

Just over a month ago, “Brad’s Status” hit theaters, starring Ben Stiller and Jenna Fischer. Stiller plays the titular Brad, who works at a Sacramento non-profit before adventuring to the East Coast with his son. “Brad’s Status” has also been well-received by critics.

Sacramento has made some notable but more subtle appearances as a backdrop. The tree-happy aerial shots at the beginning and end of “American Beauty,” 1999’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, came courtesy of the City of Trees.

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To some extent, all three of these films’ plots involve characters yearning to “break free” of suburban confines, though Gerwig called “Lady Bird” a “love letter” to the city.

Still, there have been some subtle jabs. A brief scene in 2016 mockumentary “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” sees its protagonist, played by Andy Samberg, sell his mansion and move to Sacramento after his career as a musician begins to fall apart.

In 2010, CBS13 put together a list of the eight best films filmed in the Sacramento area – including “Phenomenon,” starring John Travolta and shot in Auburn; “Life,” starring Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy, which had scenes shot in West Sacramento; and “Frankie and Johnny,” starring Al Pacino, which had portions shot in Sacramento and Folsom, according to CBS13.

The city has shown up on the small screen as well. CBS police procedural “The Mentalist,” which ran from 2008-2015, was set in Sacramento, where a handful of its scenes were shot on-location. The bulk of the show was filmed in Los Angeles, according to the Internet Movie Database.

IMDb lists 792 titles (including movies and TV episodes) filmed in Sacramento, though some of those are nonfiction, like episodes of “Cops.” It’s no Los Angeles (94,440 titles listed) or San Francisco (5,602), but it’s a start.

Shooting on-location in Sac isn’t easy, as Gerwig learned. She had hoped to shoot all of “Lady Bird” in town, but had to film parts of it elsewhere for tax credit reasons.

Sacramento’s next big-name, big-screen appearance could come at the hands of Clint Eastwood. The director’s upcoming drama, “The 15:17 to Paris,” is based on the true story of three Sacramento men who helped stop an attempted terrorist attack in Paris in 2015. Eastwood was seen this weekend on Tower Bridge Gateway in West Sacramento with train hero Anthony Sadler, who posted a picture to Instagram. The photo has since been removed.

“The 15:17 to Paris” is set for a Feb. 9 debut.