Pacific Park located on the World Famous Santa Monica Pier

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Films and TV Shows Filmed at the Santa Monica Pier in California

November 21st, 2018

The Santa Monica Pier is one of the most-filmed locations in Los Angeles and has starred in hundreds of movies, music videos, commercials, and TV shows. The Pier offers storytellers a unique landscape with sweeping ocean views, wide, sandy beaches, plus an amusement park and classic boardwalk midway. Pacific Park’s bright blue and pink walls have served as the background for countless music videos and commercial shoots, and who could forget all those romantic moments captured on the Ferris wheel?

The earliest movie filmed at the Pier was the Charlie Chaplin film, “Tillie’s Punctured Romance” in 1914. Since that slap-sticky comedy movie, the Pier and its internationally recognized Ferris wheel (which opened in May of 1996) has been Hollywood’s favorite location for romantic walks along the boardwalk, thrilling roller coaster shots, and scenes of happy youngsters winning a prize in the midway.

This list represents some of the best-known movies that were filmed at the Pier, and a few lesser-known gems.

Movies filmed on the Santa Monica Pier

1941 (1979) IMDB
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Stars: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Treat Williams
Synopsis: Nominated for three Oscars, 1941 is a comedy war movie about how Americans in California prepared for a Japanese invasion just days after the infamous Pearl Harbor attack.
When the Pier Appears: The Ferris wheel of the Pacific Ocean Amusement Park is frequently shown throughout the movie and even rolls into the ocean.

2012 (2009) IMDB
Directed By: Roland Emmerich
Stars: John Cusack, Thandie Newton, Chiwetel Ejiofor
Synopsis: An average man struggles to keep his family alive during a series of global catastrophes that befall them during the year 2012, which at the time was in the future.
When the Pier Appears: During the earthquake, the Pier is seen sinking under the waves.

A Night at the Roxbury (1998) IMDB
Directed by: John Fortenberry
Stars: Chris Kattan, Will Ferrell, Raquel Gardner
Synopsis: Based on Saturday Night Live’s head-bobbing brothers, Steve and Doug Butabi, who dream of making it big by becoming owners of an elite dance club and while they wait for that dream to come true, they prepare to make it into the town’s most exclusive club, The Roxbury.
When the Pier Appears: The brothers are walking along the beach wearing black thongs.

Bean (1997) IMDB
Directed by: Mel Smith
Stars: Rowan Atkinson, Peter MacNicol, John Mills, Pamela Reed
Synopsis: Atkinson’s most famous British character on the small screen, Mr. Bean, makes it to the big screen with an adventure in America.
When the Pier Appears: Mr. Bean visits Pacific Park and tries out a motion simulator ride.

Beverly Hills Cop 3 (1994) IMDB
Directed by: John Landis
Stars: Eddie Murphy, Jon Tenney, Joey Travolta
Synopsis: In the second sequel of the series, Axel Foley discovers that the men of a car theft ring are the same guys who shot his boss and they’re going to go down.
When the Pier Appears: About halfway through the film.

Black Eye (1974) IMDB
Directed by: Jack Arnold
Stars: Fred Williamson, Rosmary Forsyth, Teresa Graves
Synopsis: A police detective checks out a series of murders that are connected to a drug ring and a religious cult.

By The Sad Sea Waves (1917) IMDB
Directed by: Alfred J. Goulding
Stars: Harold Lloyd, ‘Snub’ Pollard, Bebe Daniels
Synopsis: Harold spends the day pretending to be a lifeguard in hopes of impressing some the local ladies.
When the Pier Appears: The Pier is seen throughout the background of the film.

Cellular (2004) IMDB
Directed by: David R. Ellis
Stars: Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, Jason Statham
Synopsis: Ryan, a young guy, randomly receives a phone call from Jessica Martin, a stranger who has been kidnapped and asks for his help in saving her and her family.
When the Pier Appears: Near the beginning of the movie, Ryan tries to apologize to his girlfriend at the amusement park.

Clean Slate (1994) IMDB
Directed by: Mick Jackson
Stars: Dana Carvey, Valeria Golino, James Earl Jones
Synopsis: Carvey plays a private eye who suffers from total amnesia and doesn’t remember anything that happens the day before.
When the Pier Appears: About an hour into the movie, there is a brief scene where the Santa Monica Pier’s iconic sign is featured.

Dark Ride (2006) IMDB
Directed by Craig Singer
Stars: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Patrick Renna, David Clayton Rogers
Synopsis: This horror movie features six friends who board the “Dark Ride” at an amusement park which just so happens to be the hideout of a murdering psychopath who has just escaped a mental institution.
When the Pier Appears: Throughout the whole film.

Fish Hooky (1933) IMDB
Directed by: Robert F. McGowan
Stars: Matthew Beard, Dorothy DeBorba, Bobby Hutchins
Synopsis: A Little Rascals short film where a truant officer finds kids at an amusement park when they should be in school.
When the Pier Appears: Throughout the whole film.

Forrest Gump (1994) IMDB
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise
Synopsis: Winner of six Oscars, this is an odd story of a simple Alabama man with a low IQ and the adventures he takes through the Vietnam War, to Watergate and even to the invention of the smiley face.
When the Pier Appears: Forrest Gump is seen running a long distance when he stops at the Santa Monica Pier, looks out and then decides to continue running.

Hancock (2008) IMDB
Directed by: Peter Berg
Stars: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman
Synopsis: An overly serious tale of a reluctant superhero who leaves a trail of destruction whenever he saves anyone and is need of a new public image.
When the Pier Appears: The final scene of the movie features Bateman’s and Theron’s characters walking on the sidewalk with the Ferris wheel and the amusement park in the distance.

Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009) IMDB
Directed by: Peter Chelsom
Stars: Miley Cyrus, Emily Osment, Billy Ray Cyrus
Synopsis: An extension of the super-popular children’s show on Disney Channel about an average teenager living a double life as superstar singer. Here, the star character takes a trip to her hometown in Tennessee in hopes of getting some perspective in her life.
When the Pier Appears: During Hannah’s friend Lilly’s birthday party.

Her (2013) IMDB
Directed by: Spike Jonze
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson
Synopsis: A single male writer becomes attached to a female-voiced operating system (much like Apple’s Siri) that is designed to meet every need he has.

Inside Daisy Clover (1965) IMDB
Diretor: Robert Mulligan
Stars: Natalie Wood, Christopher Plummer, Robert Redford, Roddy McDowell, Ruth Gordon
Synopsis: Set in the 1930’s, a tomboy suddenly becomes a star, unable to handle the pressures of a cruel Hollywood.
When the Pier Appears: At the very beginning of the film, Wood’s character walks into the Carousel building to make a recording of herself singing.

Iron Man (2008) IMDB
Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard
Synopsis: The first of the Marvel Studios huge franchise of superhero films. Here, billionaire Tony Stark, who used to create weapons of mass destruction has a change of heart and uses his powers for good instead of evil.
When the Pier Appears: Iron Man flies over the Pier when he is first testing his suit.

Jem and the Holograms (2015) IMDB
Director: Jon M.Chu
Stars: Aubrey Peeples, Stephanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau
Synopsis: Just a small town girl…Jerrica (later to be known as Jem) goes from small time YouTube breakout star to global superstar.
When the Pier Appears: Jem and her sisters break into song under the Santa Monica Pier.

Knight of Cups (2015) IMDB
Directed by: Terrence Malick
Stars: Christian Bale, Cate Blanchette, Natalie Portman, Freida Pinto
Synopsis: Rick, a writer, changes his views and perceptions by visiting Los Angeles and Las Vegas with the company of six different women.
When the Pier Appears: Christian and Freida have a few scenes together on the sand and under the Pier.

Lords of Dogtown (2005) IMDB
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Stars: Heath Ledger, Emile Hirsch, Victor Rasuk
Synopsis: Taking place in the 1970’s, “Lords of Dogtown” follows the skateboarding trends of that era.

Love Stinks (1999) IMDB
Directed by: Jeff Franklin
Stars: French Stewart, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Bill Bellamy
Synopsis: A comedy where a successful man fails to propose to his girlfriend in a timely manner and so she proposes to make his life a living hell.

Miracle Beach (1992) IMDB
Directed by: Skott Snider
Stars: Dean Cameron, Ami Dolenz, Felicity Waterman
Synopsis: Sort of a “I Dream of Jeannie” story where a beach bum asks a genie to help him get the girl of his dreams.

Miracle Mile (1988) IMDB
Directed by: Steve De Jarnatt
Stars: Anthony Edwards, Mare Winningham, John Agar
Synopsis: Harry gets a phone call from a “wrong number” only to learn that a nuclear war has begun and that missiles will hit his hometown in just over an hour’s time.
When the Pier Appears: Harry and Julie set lobsters free on the Pier.

My Sister’s Keeper (2009) IMDB
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin, Alec Baldwin
Synopsis: Anna seeks to earn medical emancipation from her parents who have used her to help keep her leukemia-stricken daughter, Kate, alive.
When the Pier Appears: Near the end of the movie, the sisters and their parents visit the beach of Santa Monica for one last time.

Night Tide (1961) IMDB
Directed by: Curtis Harrington
Stars: Dennis Hopper, Linda Lawson, Gavin Muir
Synopsis: A sailor falls for a woman who performs as a mermaid at a small carnival, but begins to suspect that she might actually be a siren who brings men to their death.
When the Pier Appears: Though set in San Diego, many scenes are shot on the Ocean Park Pier.

Not Another Teen Movie (2001) IMDB
Directed by: Joel Gallen
Stars: Chyler Leigh, Jaime Pressly, Chris Evans
Synopsis: Actually is what the title says it isn’t – it’s a spoof of all teen movies wrapped up into one over-the-top comedy.
When the Pier Appears: The “Prom Tonight” song number begins with Jake mooching beside the Santa Monica Pier.

Pacific Rim Uprising (2018) IMDB
Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Stars: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaney
Synopsis: Sequel to “Pacific Rim,” the son of Stacker Pentecost meets up with his father’s partner to work alongside many others within a giant robot to fend of creatures from outer space. Not based on a true story.
When the Pier Appears: The monster kaiju attacks and destroys the Pier as well as much of the city.

Quicksand (1950) IMDB
Directed by: Irving Pichel
Stars: Mickey Rooney, Jeanne Cagney, Barbara Bates, Peter Lorre
Synopsis: A simple “borrowing” of $20 from his employer’s cash register leads Dan down a rabbit hole of misadventures in the film-noir crime drama.
When the Pier Appears: About halfway through, Dan is blackmailed by an owner of a penny arcade on the Pier.

Ruthless People (1986) IMDB
Directed by Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, Jerry Zucker
Stars: Bette Midler, Danny DeVito, Judge Reinhold
Synopsis: A kidnapping couple are surprised to learn that the victim’s husband is actually glad that his wife is gone. Now what are they going to do?
When the Pier Appears: You’ll have to wait until the end as the Pier doesn’t appear until the movie’s climatic scenes.

Rocky III (1982) IMDB
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Stars: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
Synopsis: After reaching the height of his fame, the boxing champ finds himself stuck and is encouraged by Apollo Creed, a former opponent.
When the Pier Appears: After working out at Apollo’s gym, Rocky and Apollo race on the sand at the Santa Monica Beach toward the Pier.

She Wants Me (2012) IMDB
Directed by: Rob Margolies
Stars: Aaron Yoo, Alex Solwitz, Brennan Murray
Synopsis: A screenwriter gets in hot water when an A-list actress shows some interest in his new film in a role that he had intended to be played by his girlfriend.

Sharknado (2013) IMDB
Directed by: Anthony C. Ferrante
Stars: Ian Ziering, Tara Reid, John Heard
Synopsis: Not a true-life adventure tale, sharks are drawn up from a freak hurricane and rain down on residents down below.
When the Pier Appears: Near the beginning of the film, the Pier is whipped out from the Sharknado.

Smiley Face (2007) IMDB
Directed by: Gregg Araki
Stars: Anna Faris, John Krasinski, Adam Brody
Synopsis: Jane is having both a good and bad day when she discovers that her roommate’s cupcakes had been laced with marijuana.
When the Pier Appears: Jane spends time having fun at the Pier.

The Glenn Miller Story (1954) IMDB
Directed by: Anthony Mann
Stars: James Stewart, June Allyson, Harry Morgan
Synopsis: A biography of the famous big band leader who died in 1944 over the English Channel.
When the Pier Appears: There is a scene that takes place at the La Monica Ballroom located on the Pier where Glenn Miller attends an audition.

The Hottie and the Nottie (2008) IMDB
Directed by Tom Putnam
Stars: Paris Hilton, Joel David Moore, Christine Lakin
Synopsis: Christabel, a beautiful young woman, finally agrees to go on a date with Nate on the condition that he finds a date for her unattractive best friend, June.
When the Pier Appears: While walking along the Pier near the beginning of the film, Nate looks for June’s date.

The Majestic (2001) IMDB
Directed by: Frank Darabont
Stars: Jim Carrey, Martin Landau, Bob Balaban
Synopsis: After losing his memory, a cranky and blacklisted Hollywood writer is mistaken as a long-lost son, settles down in a small town and revives the little town’s movie theater, The Majestic.

The Net (1995) IMDB
Directed by: Irwin Winkler
Stars: Sandra Bullock, Jeremy Northam, Dennis Miller
Synopsis: Bullock plays computer geek Angela Bennett who finds that she has a cyberterrorist stealing her identity.
When the Pier Appears: Angela attempts to meet fellow computer nerd, Cyberbob, at the Pier and ends up ditching Jack Devlin, who followed her there, on the Carousel.

The Sting (1973) IMDB
Directed by: George Roy Hill
Stars: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Robert Shaw
Synopsis: Winner of seven Oscars, “The Sting” features two grifters coming together to pull off the ultimate con in this classic comedy crime drama.
When the Pier Appears: Though the movie’s plot took place in Chicago, the movie features the Pier’s carousel and Looff Hippodrome.

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) IMDB
Directed by: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York
Synopsis: This films follows the lives of a group of contestants while they compete to win a grueling dance marathon.
When the Pier Appears: The dance takes place in a building located on the Pier.

Tillie’s Punctured Romance (1914) IMDB
Directed by: Mack Sennett, Charles Bennett
Stars: Charlie Chaplin, Marie Dressler, Mabel Normand
Synopsis: This slapstick silent film features Chaplin as a con man who convinces a wealthy woman to marry him while he steals her father’s money.
When the Pier Appears: Most of the story takes place on the beach or on the Pier itself.

Titanic (1997) IMDB
Directed by: James Cameron
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane
Synopsis: The story of a wealthy young woman who falls in love with a poor young man aboard the infamous R.M.S. Titanic during an ill-fated adventure.
When the Pier Appears: Jack tries to impress Rose sharing about the time that he bravely rode the roller coaster on the Pier. In real life though, the roller coaster that he mentions wasn’t even built until four years after the Titanic sank.

Wish I Was Here (2014) IMDB
Directed by: Zach Braff
Starring: Zach Braff, Kate Hudson, Mandy Patinkin
Synopsis: Aidan is a struggling actor, father and husband who needs to re-examine his life.
When the Pier Appears: Aidan and Sarah take a stroll at the beach at night.

Woman on the Run (1950) IMDB
Directed by: Norman Foster
Stars: Ann Sheridan, Dennis O’Keefe, Robert Keith
Synopsis: Frank Johnson witnesses a murder and now is on the run from the police, his wife, a reporter and the real murderer.
When the Pier Appears: Though the story takes place in San Francisco, the movie’s final scenes were filmed at the Ocean Park Pier.

 

Television

24
Episode: “Day 6: 9:00-10:00 p.m.” (Season 6, Episode 16)
When the Pier Appears: Jack tracks Fayed to the pier, Gredenko gets shot and dies under the Pier.

90210
Episode: The whole series
When the Pier Appears: The Pier is shown frequently when the cast visit the Beverly Hills beach club.

Alias
Episode: “A Broken Heart” (Season 1, Episode 4)
When the Pier Appears: Sydney, upset after being stood up by her father, meets with Vaughn to discuss her feelings.

America’s Next Top Model All Stars
Episode: Cycle 17, Episode 5
When the Pier Appears: The models wear fashions from the Kardashian Collection in a runway challenge with Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian in attendance on the Santa Monica Pier.

Big Time Rush
Episode: The whole series
When the Pier Appears: The Pier is shown at various times throughout the series.

Castle
Episode: “To Love and Die in L.A.” (Season 3, Episode 22)
When the Pier Appears: While visiting the set of a movie based on one of Castle’s books, Castle and Beckett travel all over from Downtown L.A. to the Santa Monica beach.

Charlie’s Angels
Episode: “The Sandcastle Murders” (Season 2, Episode 20)
When the Pier Appears: While working the hamburger stand, Bosley spotted Gerson, a man who had upset Betsy by spying on her through binoculars and trail him to the Santa Monica Pier.

Chuck
Episode: “Chuck Vs. the Sandworm” (Season 1, Episode 6)
When the Pier Appears: Chuck meet Laszlo at the arcade on the Pier and later defuses a car bomb underneath it.

Columbo
Episode: “The Most Crucial Game” (Season 2, episode 3)

Criminal Minds
Episode: “The Fallen” (Season 8, Episode 7)
When the Pier Appears: Burned bodies of homeless people start showing up at the Pier.

Drop Dead Diva
Episode: Throughout the series
When the Pier Appears: Throughout the series.

Eva Luna
Episode: (Season 1, Episode 110)

Flashforward
Episode: “Believe” and “Future Shock” (Season 1, Episodes 9 and 23)
When the Pier Appears: In “Believe,” Olivia and Charlie are out at the Pier. In “Future Shock,” the Pier is shown in the background briefly.

Gilmore Girls
Episode: “Here Comes the Son” (Season 3, Episode 21)
When the Pier Appears: When Jess goes to find his father, who works at the Pier.

Goliath
Episode: Throughout the series.
When the Pier Appears: The series is shot in Santa Monica; throughout the series the Pier and Pacific Park are prominently featured among other Santa Monica landmarks.

Grey’s Anatomy
Episode: “The Other Side of Life parts 1 and 1” (Season 3, Episodes 22 and 23)
When the Pier Appears: Addison takes a trip to visit the Oceanside Wellness Group near the Pier.

Hannah Montana
Episode: All of Season 4
When the Pier Appears: The fourth season takes place in Santa Monica instead of Malibu. Lilly is shown frequently working at a game booth on the Pier.

Keeping Up with the Kardashians
Episode: “Match Made in Hell” (Season 5, Epsiode 7)
When the Pier Appears: Kris and Khloé meet the BG5 girls on the beach near the Pier.

Life After People
Episode: “Waves of Devastation” (Season 2, Episode 7)
When the Pier Appears: The documentary series focuses on the Pier during this episode.

Lucifer
Episode: “The Good, the Bad and the Crispy” (Season 2, episode 18)
When the Pier Appears: Near the end of the episode, Dan and Chloe find Charlotte at the Santa Monica Pier watching a bunch of kids.

Episode: “They’re Back, Aren’t They?” (Season 3, episode 1)
When the Pier Appears: Chloe and Lucifer investigate the body of Sam left posed under the Pier.

Modern Family
Episode: “Fears” (Season 1, Episode 16)
When the Pier Appears: The family takes a trip to the Santa Monica Pier.

Monk
Episode: “Mr. Monk and the Birds and the Bees” (Season 6, Episode 5)
When the Pier Appears: Detective Adrian Monk chases a criminal throughout the Park and eventually is arrested after being caught on the Pier.

NCIS: Los Angeles
Episode: “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)
When the Pier Appears: The pilot begins with Agent G. Callen waking up in his small apartment overlooking the Pier.

Private Practice
Episode: The whole series
When the Pier Appears: Several scenes shot at the Pier throughout the series.

Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television
Episode: Pilot (Season 1, episode 1)
When the Pier Appears: Jessica and Ryan Hansen find the suspect on the Pier with the woman he kidnapped.

Simon and Simon
Episode: “The Rookie” (Season 6, episode 7)
When the Pier Appears: Simon and Simon travel up north from San Diego to solve a crime.

South of Nowhere
Episode: “Girl’s Guide to Dating” (Season 1, Episode 5)
When the Pier Appears: Spencer and Ashley head to the beach when the school is on lock down.

South Park
Episode: “Fishsticks” (Season 13, Episode 5)
When the Pier Appears: The episode ends with Kanye West jumping off the Santa Monica Pier to begin a new life as a gay fish.

Star Trek: Voyager
Episode: “Future’s End, Part 1” (Season 3, episode 8)
When the Pier Appears: The Pier is in the 20th century Los Angeles.

Stitchers
Episode: “Connections” (Season 1, Episode 3)
When the Pier Appears: Kirsten sees Scott on the Pier in her memories.

Episode: “Full Stop” (Season 1, Episode 10)
When the Pier Appears: Kirsten sees the Pier again in more memories.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Episode: “The Mousetrap” (Season 2, Episode 3)
When the Pier Appears: When Cromartie tries to track down John Connor on the Pier, who steals a pair of sunglasses and a cap from a Pier vendor to disguise himself.

The Amazing Race
Episode: (Season 5, Episode 1)
When the Pier Appears: This place was the starting line for the fifth season.

The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.
Episode: “The Mother Muffin Affair” (1966)
When the Pier Appears: Though set in London, climax features action scene on the carousel, the arcade room, and several other locations.

The Great Food Truck Race
Episode: “All American Road Trip” (Season 6, Episode 1)
When the Pier Appears: One of the stops on the big race is at the Pier.

The Incredible Hulk
Episode: “King of the Beach” (Season 4, Episode 9)
When the Pier Appears: Most of the episode was filmed there.

The Mindy Project
Episode: “LA” (Season 2, Episode 13)
When the Pier Appears: The whole episode takes place in various location in Los Angeles.

The Mod Squad
Episode: “Home is in the Streets” (Season 4, Episode 3)
When the Pier Appears: Pacific Ocean Park “plays” the abandoned “Fun City” amusement park.

The Rockford Files
Episode: Episode 1 of Season 1
When the Pier Appears: During the opening credits, a city bus pulls up alongside the Pier in the adjacent parking lot.

The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
Episode: “The Suite Life Goes To Hollywood parts 1 and 2” (Season 2, Episodes 36 and 37)
When the Pier Appears: Zack, Cody and crew travel around Los Angeles and stop to play on the beach.

The Tonight Show
Commercial Bumper

Three’s Company
Episode: Seasons 4 and 5
When the Pier Appears: The cast is seen walking along the Pier during the opening credits.

Touch
Episode: The whole series
When the Pier Appears: There were several scenes shot at the Pier throughout the series.

Welcome to the Family
Episode: “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)
When the Pier Appears: A few scenes are shown on the Pier.

 

Video games

 

Music videos

 

 

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380 Santa Monica Pier
Santa Monica, CA 90401-3128

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