Buffalo’s best on the big screen
A look at the notable films and television shows filmed in the Queen City
Hollywood may be miles away, but Buffalo is no stranger to the silver screen. Many film and television productions have taken advantage of the city’s unique metropolitan architecture and landmarks.
Buffalo adds instant production value to any project, whether it be the actual setting of the film or standing in for another city.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows” (2016)
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Out of the Shadows” is not the greatest, but is certainly one of the biggest productions to shoot in our city.
Film crews shut down the 33 expressway in the summer of 2015 to shoot the film’s opening action sequence. The film may not have won any Academy Awards, but “TMNT 2” grossed over $240 million at the box office.
In this film, Buffalo portrayed a convincing New York City, but not for the first time. Buffalo was the stunt double for NYC in a slightly smaller production that debuted a year before: the Syfy channel original feature “Sharknado 2: The Second One.”
“Bruce Almighty” (2003)
A better-known instance of Buffalo starring as itself came five years later in “Bruce Almighty.” In this picture, Jim Carrey stars as a field reporter for Buffalo’s Eyewitness News at WKBW-TV who gains the powers of God (naturally, played by Morgan Freeman) after insisting that he could do a better job at playing God than God himself.
The aforementioned TV station is featured prominently. The film also includes scenes shot at Niagara Falls and the then-named HSBC Arena.
“Buffalo ’66” (1998)
Buffalo was not content to forever play the understudy and had one of its breakout roles in what Empire ranks among the best independent films of all time: “Buffalo ’66.”
Vincent Gallo writes, directs and stars in the film. The Buffalo native is best known outside of this film for receiving real on-screen fellatio from Chloë Sevigny in his film “The Brown Bunny.” He currently offers his “personal services” as an escort on his official website for a paltry $50,000.
As one may assume from the title, Buffalo is featured prominently in the film, particularly the Buffalo Metropolitan Transportation Center and deep-cut landmark Recckio’s Bowling Center located in South Buffalo.
Co-star Christina Ricci performs a tap dancing solo in one of the film’s most memorable scenes. The film’s plot is centered on a Buffalo in-joke in which the protagonist Billy Brown (Gallo) is hunting down the man who he feels is responsible for his imprisonment, Scott Wood. The villain is a thinly veiled reference to Scott Norwood, a former Buffalo Bills kicker who missed the game-winning field goal in Super Bowl XXV against the New York Giants in 1991.
“The Natural” (1984)
Academy Award winner Robert Duvall and Academy Award nominee Glenn Close star in “The Natural,” which was nominated for four Academy Awards.
The film chronicles the life of Roy Hobbs, the titular “natural” baseball player. Many of the film’s scenes take place in the War Memorial Stadium that served as the home location for the Buffalo Bills from 1960-1972 before they departed for Rich Stadium.
The film’s key scene was shot in Buffalo’s All High Stadium, which is the current home to the FC Buffalo soccer team and one of three high school stadiums in regular rotation. All High was altered to portray a convincing ’30s era Wrigley Field where Hobbs hits his game-winning homer and shatters the scoreboard with the ball.
The small screen
Buffalo’s stints on the small screen have been brief, but notable. In a post “Married… With Children” role, Christina Applegate starred in “Jesse.”
This TV series ran for two seasons from 1998 to 2000 and featured Applegate as a single mother raising a 9-year-old boy and running a German bar in Buffalo where the series was partially filmed.
The hit TV series “The Office” mentions Buffalo by name a number of times throughout the series. It is more of an honorable mention as it did not film in Buffalo. The series also filmed on-location in Niagara Falls, New York for its most anticipated episode featuring the marriage of Jim and Pam. The two had their ceremony on the iconic Maid of the Mist ship ride in the Falls.
Davis Tunis-Garcia is the assistant arts editor and can be reached at: