There's something genuinely exciting about seeing part of your hometown or even your home state on the big screen, especially when you're from South Florida. Most movies wind up set in New York City or Los Angeles, and more and more of them are being filmed in Atlanta or Vancouver, but there are plenty of films where you'll find perfectly recognizable stretches of Miami's beaches or familiar streets in Coconut Grove.
Recently, GoCompare.com combed through IMDb to track down the world's most popular filming locations. The resulting report shows Florida's place in the mix, as well as the most filmed places in the state.
Before we continue, it seems fair to point out that GoCompare.com is a U.K.-based financial-services comparison website that specializes in various kinds of insurance, such as for travelers, homes, and pets. It's not entirely clear how this project relates to the company's focus or the legitimacy of an IMDb search.
Scruples aside, though, here's some of what GoCompare.com found:
Unsurprisingly, the two most popular states for moviemakers were California and New York, with 52,924 and 23,939 film and TV productions, respectively. Florida came in fourth place, with a respectable 7,437 productions listed on IMDb.
The data also ranks the eight most-filmed locations in the state and lists some films as examples for each. South Beach topped the list, with movies such as Scarface and Bad Boys. Key West ranked second, with films such as True Lies and License to Kill, and Disney World came in third, with distinguished classics such as Tomorrowland and High School Musical being filmed there.
The list also includes the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, a pair of football stadiums (though neither Hard Rock Stadium nor the Orange Bowl made the cut), Daytona International Speedway, and Miami's Coconut Grove.
Perhaps the most questionable aspect of the study is the choice of movies GoCompare uses as examples of Florida films. How can you mention that How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days was filmed on South Beach but not nod to The Birdcage? What about There's Something About Mary and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective?
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And how is it possible that The Pest wasn't included? Do the people at GoCompare not know The Pest is amazing? If you grew up in Miami in the '90s and you didn't want to be Pestario Vargas — John Leguizamo's wacky con artist who agrees to be hunted by a neo-Nazi on an island to avoid the Miami Scottish mob — we straight-up can't be friends.
Sadly, the film industry doesn't seem to have the same love for South Florida it once had. When Gov. Rick Scott in 2016 ended tax incentives to attract filmmakers to Florida, lawmakers and business interests began scrambling to find new ways of luring the entertainment industry back to the Sunshine State.
Considering things down here getting so bleak that Universal's remake of Scarface is slated to be shot in Atlanta, at least we can take comfort in a few modern classics like Moonlight and The Florida Project, along with all the cinematic gems that have put Florida on the silver screen in the past.