Malibu in the Movies
Set along twenty-one miles of pristine coastline on the outskirts of LA, Malibu captures the perfect snapshot of Southern California’s iconic landscape and lifestyle. Coupled with its close proximity to Hollywood, it’s no wonder “The ‘Bu” plays a starring role in many of the film industry’s most notorious productions over the years—from Grease to X-Men to The Notebook.
As the film industry turns its attention to the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, we’ve looked back at some of Malibu’s most recognizable movie locations and which scenes have been set there. Here are the results:
Map data: GoogleMaps
1. LEO CARRILLO STATE PARK
Scenic, secluded, and quintessentially California, Leo Carrillo State Park runs along at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains offering one-and-a-half miles of coastal caves, tide pools, and dramatic seaside bluffs. Fittingly named after movie and Broadway actor Leo Carrillo, the beach is an idyllic hideaway that regularly attracts surfers, campers, swimmers, and a wide variety of filmmakers.
Followers of the Cannes Film Festival will recognize the park from famed crime thriller “The Usual Suspects,” played at the festival in 1995. Known for its iconic plot twist, the movie shows Stephen Baldwin, Kevin Spacey, Kevin Pollak, and Gabriel Byrne digging a grave inside a coastal cave for the body of Benicio Del Toro’s character.
One of the most iconic movies filmed here is Grease, showing characters Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny (John Travolta) spend the summer falling in love along the beach. Another classic is She’s All That, filmed in one of the beach’s quiet coves showing characters Zack Siler (Freddie Prince Jr.), Laney Boggs (Rachel Leigh Cook), Dean Sampson (Paul Walker), and friends hang out playing volleyball.
Other Movies Filmed Here: 50 First Dates, The Arrangement, Princess Diaries Two, Pirates of the Caribbean, That Thing You Do!, Letters from Iwo Jima, the Karate Kid, and Six Days, Seven Nights.
2. POINT DUME
Whale watchers, surfers, and sun soakers aren’t the only ones drawn to the turquoise waters and dramatic cliffs of Malibu’s picturesque Point Dume. A coveted backdrop among Hollywood filmmakers, this hidden gem—originally named after Padre Francisco Dumetz (DUM-MAY), but was misspelled and so the name “Dume” stuck—is arguably most renowned for the final scene in Planet of the Apes. Movie watchers might recall a giant replica of the Statue of Liberty constructed from cardboard and paper maché, buried in the sand overlooking the Pacific.
Other Movies Filmed Here: The Big Lebowski, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Pearl Harbor, and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.
3. PARADISE COVE
This aptly named beach is a beautiful, naturally formed cove that has been privately owned for over 100 years and has beguiled celebrities and filmmakers alike. Visitors are faced with limited parking, but if you can find a spot and don’t mind paying an entrance fee, it’s a great place to catch some rays and grab lunch at the Paradise Cove Beach Cafe. Some might recognize the beach in the old surfing classic and love story with Sandra Dee, Gidget. A more recent film is Lethal Weapon 4, where character Riggs (Mel Gibson) lives in a trailer house façade that was built just for the film in Paradise Cove.
Other Movies Filmed Here: X-Men, Monster-in-Law, and Indecent Proposal.
4. EL MATADOR STATE BEACH
Known for its dramatic rock formations and arches along the shores, El Matador State Beach is a sight for sore eyes and draws legions of photographers and film crews for the incredible photo opportunities at sunrise and sunset. Its sandy shores were used in one of the most memorable scenes in the adored movie The Notebook. Romantics will remember the scene where Allie (Rachel McAdams) pretends to be a bird on the beach with Noah (Ryan Gosling), with Malibu’s iconic coastal bluffs towering in the background.
5. MALIBU PIER
Built in 1905 as a shipping dock for products like grain and fruit, Malibu Pier has since evolved into an iconic landmark where visitors come to dine, fish, or simply take in a sprawling view over the Pacific. The pier can be seen in the movie Taken 2—when character Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) eats with his family at the restaurant—as well as scenes from Taken 3.
6. NEPTUNE’S NET
Legendary biker bar, Neptune’s Net, is easily spotted from the PCH with a parking lot lined with leather choppers and shiny Harleys. The place has become a local landmark over the years, known for its fresh seafood, amazing views of the Pacific, and countless scenes from movies old and new. In the first film of The Fast and the Furious series—arguably its most famous appearance—Brian (Paul Walker) and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) feast on some local shrimp while discussing their favorite car specs.
Other Movies Filmed Here: Losin’ It, Point Break, People Like Us.