Thanks in large part to the Ohio Motion Picture Tax Credit, the movie industry is seriously mugging on C-town — and has been for awhile. Our city is a haven for some pretty popular movie productions that range from classics like A Christmas Story to high-action flicks like The Avengers.
It’s the esteemed Greater Cleveland Film Commission that is coordinating these productions, which have generated an estimated $1.38 billion in economic impact, as well as over 7,000 full-time equivalent jobs.
So, skip that touristy trip to Tinseltown. And, take an authentic cinematic journey through The Land.
Day One: Filmed in CLE
BREAKFAST: In 2003, actor Paul Giamatti portrayed legendary Clevelander and comic book series creator Harvey Pekar in the film "American Splendor." Make way to Shay’s Restaurant the authentically Cleveland breakfast joint where — in both the movie and real life — Pekar convinced Robert Crumb to be his illustrator.
MORNING: Grab your cape and tights! It’s time to check out the Cleveland Museum of Art and its renowned collection of more than 30,000 works of art — free of charge. The museum’s opulent, 39,000-square-foot, three-story, glass-enclosed atrium was depicted as the SHIELD headquarters in the 2014 high-action blockbuster "Captain America: Winter Soldier," directed by native Clevelanders Joe and Anthony Russo, who went on from here to break box office records with the "Avengers" franchise.
LUNCH: Tommy’s Restaurant in Coventry Village boasts a menu of whole, healthy foods (long before it was the cool thing to do) and was once a stomping ground for Harvey Pekar. After you’ve had one of Tommy’s famous milkshakes, gander down Coventry Avenue, which was a set location for the 2012 Nickelodeon movie "Fun Size," starring Victoria Justice.
AFTERNOON: In 2002, the Russo Brothers' debut film "Welcome to Collinwood" hit theaters. Starring William H. Macy, Isaiah Washington, Sam Rockwell, Michael Jeter and George Clooney, the comedy — set in the very neighborhood for which it was named — tells the story of a group of nitwit delinquents who epically fail at becoming criminals. Head to Collinwood’s funky Waterloo Arts District featuring music venue Beachland Ballroom and vinyl shop Blue Arrow Records.
DINNER: Escargots, foie gras, crème brulee and frog legs. It’s all the rage at fine dining establishment EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute. The restaurant is featured in an Academy Award-nominated documentary “Knife Skills,” which tells the story of the challenges of opening a restaurant staffed primarily by formerly incarcerated adults who are mostly new to the hospitality industry and classic French cuisine.
EVENING: Whether you saw it in theaters in 1997 or simply enjoy the couch-surfing weekend reruns, "Air Force One" showed us that Harrison Ford would make for one bad-ass President. During the opening credits of "Air Force One," there’s a scene portraying a nighttime raid on the palace of the president of Kazakhstan. This “palace” is actually Severance Hall, the home of The Cleveland Orchestra. Take a night to see this internationally celebrated orchestra.
Day 2: Filmed in CLE
(c) Larry E. Highbaugh, Jr.
BREAKFAST: In the 2015 film "Jenny’s Wedding," the main character and her dad (played by Katherine Heigl and Tom Wilkinson) have lunch at the West Side Market. You can dine at the West Side Market IRL by perusing its almost one hundred vendors or by getting a between-films bite at Kim Se Cambodian Cuisine, Frank’s Bratwurst and Steve's Gyros.
MORNING: Besides being a haven for cool boutiques, beloved eateries, art galleries and laid-back bars, the neighborhood of Tremont also is home to several film locations. Most notably is the 1983 classic "A Christmas Story," in which several scenes were shot here in Cleveland, including the exterior of the Parker family home. Today, that house (known as A Christmas Story House) is a visitor attraction that tours hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Venture deeper into Tremont and you’ll uncover several filming locations from the 1978 film "The Deer Hunter" starring Robert De Nero, Christopher Walken and Meryl Streep. Schedule a tour (216.574.4886) of the ornate St. Theodosius Russian Orthodox Cathedral where Steven wed Angela. Then, head to affoGATO, a cat cafe that was, during the movie filming, the location of the supermarket where Linda worked.
LUNCH: Grab a quick, gourmet lunch (and tip back a few cold ones) at Heinen’s Downtown Cleveland inside the former Cleveland Trust Rotunda Building, an architectural masterpiece of the early 20th century. Step outside onto on the corner of Euclid Avenue and East Ninth Street, however, and you might imagine an edge-of-your-seat action film unfolding before your eyes. This location was featured in the 2007 blockbuster "Spider-Man 3" in which Spider-Man is dragged from an armored truck leading to a destructive attack scene.
AFTERNOON: Spend the afternoon in Downtown Cleveland. If, when standing on the newly revived Public Square, you suddenly feel the urge to defend the world from an alien army, we’ll understand. After all, that was a scene from "The Avengers," which doubled as Stuttgart, Germany for a pivotal scene with the film's villain, Loki, whose lair was housed underneath the labyrinthine Superior Viaduct.
DINNER: In the 2014 drama "Alex Cross," Tyler Perry plays a Detroit homicide detective who’s on a mission to bring down a serial killer. In one of the film’s pivotal scenes, Alex Cross is seen dining with his wife when the serial killer calls his cell phone. The upscale restaurant where they’re dining is Acqua di Luca, located in Cleveland’s Warehouse District, a Mediterranean seafood-focused restaurant adorned with crystal chandeliers and sexy city streetscape views.
Trip Planning FTW
Who are you going to ask for the inside scoop on your visit to Cleveland? That guy outside the convenience store or the destination experts? Check out the Cleveland Visitor Insider Guide here.