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Don’t act so surprised. Cleveland has seen its fair share of Hollywood’s finest grace the shore of Lake Erie since as early as the 1960s. Whether it’s box-office blockbuster superhero movies, charming romantic comedies, riveting dramas or scare-a-minute horror flicks, many a movie has filmed in The Land — including Cleveland native Steven Caple, Jr.’s 2016 indie film “The Land.”
The good news? Most of these movies are available on streaming services you’re already subscribed to, so enjoy Cleveland cinema in all its glory — right from the comfort of your home.
The summer of 2011 saw no less than four movies film in Cleveland, none bigger than the culmination of the first phase of the most successful movie franchise in film history: Marvel’s “The Avengers.” For a little over a month, Cleveland was home to alien attacks and superhero hijinks. Large explosions rattled windows along East Ninth Street as we stood in for the final battle in NYC (featured at the front of the trailer). Public Square doubled as Stuttgart, Germany for an epic showdown between Captain America, Iron Man and the villainous Loki, who retreats to his lair — deep within the catacombs of the Superior Viaduct.
Chris Evans’ Captain America and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow weren’t the only familiar faces returning to CLE in the spring of 2013 to shut down the Shoreway. No, they brought with them two of Cleveland’s native sons, directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who grew up on the east side eating pizza in Little Italy and getting their film education at the Cleveland Cinematheque. They had already filmed their 2002 comedy “Welcome to Collinwood” (now streaming on Hulu) in that same Cleveland neighborhood, but returned helming one of the biggest movies of all time. They went on to direct Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Avengers: Endgame,” which collectively earned close to $6 billion at the worldwide box office. Not bad for two kids from Benedictine High School.
Anthony Bourdain once referred to indie comic book legend Harvey Pekar as the “poet laureate of Cleveland.” Pekar was a Clevelander to his bones, and you could truly see the city — literally and figuratively — in every issue of “American Splendor.” So, when it came time in the fall of 2001 to film the critically acclaimed biopic of the same name, naturally they shot in the very streets that Pekar walked every day of his life. Incorporating animations in the “American Splendor” style, this funny, honest slice of Cleveland history stars Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis.
Filmed partly in Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood in 2008, “The Soloist” tells the remarkable true story of Hough native Nathaniel Ayers, a promising musical talent — he attended classes at the Cleveland Music Settlement and also Julliard, with none other than Yo-Yo Ma — whose struggles with schizophrenia found him homeless in Los Angeles. In 2005, journalist Steve Lopez came across Ayers in a tunnel composing musical pieces on a two-stringed violin and introduced the world to both his genius and the trials one faces with mental illness. Jamie Foxx stars as Ayers, with Robert Downey, Jr. as Lopez.
After Gary (Adam Scott) marries Samantha (Evangeline Lilly), he finds that the weirdest things keep happening around his new stepson, Lucas. Well, as it turns out, Lucas is literally the spawn of the devil. Seriously, there’s plenty of laughter and warmth in this quirky horror-comedy that shot in 25 days in multiple Cleveland locations in 2016. Adam Scott was no stranger to CLE, as he previously shot 2016’s “My Blind Brother” (available to rent on multiple platforms) in and around Lorain, Ohio.
Yes, we know it’s not currently streaming anywhere, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t include this iconic Cleveland movie — and who couldn’t use a little Christmas right about now? Filmed in the landmark “A Christmas Story” House in Tremont, this instant classic ranks high on almost everyone’s list of holiday films. Go ahead. Fire it up and bathe in the soft glow of that iconic leg lamp. It’s a major award, you know.
There’s tons of filmed-in-CLE fun to be had all over several streaming platforms right now. Here’s just a few: