By Victoria Merlino and David Brand
New York City is not just one of the hottest places to film movies — there are currently 25 feature films in production on city streets — it’s also one of the most popular places to set movies.
For more than a century, NYC has been the setting for countless feature films and the locations of several acclaimed movies are evident in their titles: Woody Allen’s “Manhattan,” John Crowley’s “Brooklyn,” Chazz Palminteri's “A Bronx Tale.”
But what about Queens?
Official Queens historian Jack Eichenbaum told the Eagle that too many films are set in Manhattan
“If I have one overriding concern about NYC on the screen, it would be that NYC is so often portrayed as only Manhattan, which neglects so much of what is real and vital in this city,” Eichenbaum said.
Yet there have been many famous films set in the World’s Most Diverse Borough. Here are a handful:
Men In Black:
The climax of the 1997 buddy comedy starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones takes place at the Observation Towers — actually two alien spacecrafts — in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. When a UFO soars over Shea Stadium, distracted Mets outfielder Bernard Gilkey lets a ball bounce of his skull.
A 1990 crime caper comedy starring Bill Murray and Geena Davis.
New York’s friendly neighborhood superhero is best known for swinging across Manhattan skyscrapers, but when the mask comes off, he calls Queens his home. Homecoming features shots of Peter Parker’s apartment in Sunnyside and his fictional high school Midtown School of Science and Technology, an analog for Forest Hills High School.
The film’s iconic diner scene, where — Spoiler Alert — Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta) realizes that Jimmy The Gent (played by Robert de Niro) plans to whack him, takes place in Maspeth at the Goodfellas Diner, which was destroyed in a freak fire in June 2018.
Iron Man 2:
Iron Man 2 sees playboy-philanthropist-billionaire Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) relaunch his father’s Stark Expo at Flushing-Meadows Corona Park, featuring glittering shots of the iconic globe structure. The former site of the World’s Fair plays host to the climactic battle between Stark and his war-tech rival.
Coming to America:
In this classic 80s flick, wealthy African Prince Akeem (played by Eddie Murphy) travels to Queens to find his queen and, along the way, learns how normal folks live.
The Bourne Ultimatum:
In between dodging bad guys and searching for information about his past, ex-CIA assassin Jason Bourne (played by Matt Damon) takes a trip across the Queensboro bridge.
Julie and Julia:
This 2009 flick features a woman named Julie (played by Amy Adams) taking on the recipes of Julia Child in her Long Island City apartment.
It Could Happen To You:
In this 1994 romantic comedy, a police officer played by Nicolas Cage offers to share his lottery ticket with a waitress in a Queens diner when he can’t afford to pay her a tip, not knowing he’s about to win $4 million.
This film was originally going to be titled “Rego Park,” and features a plethora of Queens locations, including a bail bondsman’s office in Kew Gardens and Flushing’s New World Mall.