10 Movies You Might Not Know Were Filmed in Charleston
Have you ever walked through Charleston and felt like you were on a movie set? Well, you wouldn’t be the first one to feel that way. Over the years, there have been many movies filmed in Charleston, SC.
There’s no doubt it’s a beautiful, historically rich city, with picaresque coastlines and colorful, unique buildings that attract people from all over the place, including Hollywood directors. Some of these Hollywood directors chose Charleston to film the entirety of their movie, and others just a few key scenes.
You may have watched a few of these Charleston-filmed movies, but hopefully some of them get added to your watchlist. Read on to find out what movies were filmed in Charleston, SC. The movies near the top of our list are the most popular movies filmed mostly in Charleston, and you’ll find the deep cuts and movies with just a scene or two shot in Charleston near the bottom.
The Notebook (2004)
Ah, yes, The Notebook. You probably already knew this movie was filmed in Charleston. Perhaps one of the most popular love stories of all time, The Notebook is based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name and stars Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. The Notebook was filmed at various locations in the Charleston area, including Boone Hall Plantation, upper King Street, and Cypress Gardens. There is one famous scene in which the main characters lie down in the middle of King Street, near the corner of King and Cannon.
The Patriot (2000)
This classic historical epic starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger takes place during the American Revolution, long before the days of Spotify or Soundcloud. The story takes place in Berkeley County, and was shot mostly in locations around Charleston including Cypress Gardens, Middleton Place, and in the Cistern Yard on the College of Charleston Campus. The main character Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) is said to be a composite of four actual historical figures from the time: Andrew Pickens, Francis Marion, Daniel Morgan, and Thomas Sumter, all of whom have historical ties to Charleston.
Dear John (2010)
Yet another Nicholas Sparks novel that was adapted by Hollywood and filmed mostly in Charleston, Dear John tells the story of John Tyree (Channing Tatum) and Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried), two lovers who write letters back and forth after John goes to war. This one was filmed all over Charleston, including at many of Charleston’s beaches like Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Folly Beach, the College of Charleston campus, and Bowens Island Restaurant on James Island.
The most recent movie made in Charleston, SC to make our list is the 2018 installment of the classic slasher flick Halloween. This one made headlines and was quite the buzz when David Gordon Green & co (including Charleston resident Danny McBride) were in production. The entire thing was shot in the Charleston area, filmed at Magnolia Cemetary and locations around North Charleston.
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002)
Filmed mostly on the northern part of the Charleston peninsula, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys tells the tale of a group of Catholic school students causing a ruckus. The Peter Care-directed movie was based on a semi-autobiographical novel written by the late Chris Fuhrman, who unfortunately died of cancer before finishing his final revision. The school they filmed at is the former Immaculate Conception Catholic School on Coming Street, which has since become low-budget housing for seniors.
Cold Mountain (2003)
While the story for this civil war movie actually takes place in North Carolina, much of the filming was done in Charleston, South Carolina. Cold Mountain depicts the story of a Confederate deserter who leaves the war effort to be with his lover. Charleston locations you might recognize are the College of Charleston campus and Cypress Gardens.
The Boyfriend School (1990)
The first full-on comedy to make our list of movies filmed in Charleston is The Boyfriend School, also known as Don’t Tell Her It’s Me. It’s about a cartoonist who survives Hodgkin’s Disease and returns home to his sister, who then proceeds to try and find him a woman to date. Here you’ll see the old Cooper River Bridges, which as we know have been replaced by the Arthur Ravenel Bridge, an old gas station on Lockwood drive, and the Stiles Point Plantation on James Island.
Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995)
Yet another movie to feature the old Cooper River Bridges, the third movie in the classic action series Die Hard makes its way onto our list. During production, the film crew set up an NYC subway station out in Bushy Park at the abandoned General Dynamics plant. Fun fact that almost made the list: the 1995 comedy Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls filmed a scene or two in this same Bushy Park location while the Die Hard crew wasn’t there.
The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)
While the plot to The Philadelphia Experiment naturally takes place in Philadelphia, the naval ships in the movie are actually the ones that are docked at Patriot’s Point in Charleston, SC. The movie is based on the supposed military experiment during WW2 in which the U.S. Navy tried to cloak a ship and render it invisible to the enemies. The navy denies this claim, but it makes for a cool time travel science fiction movie, and you’ll see some familiar war ships if you give it a spin.
White Squall (1996)
Filmed mostly in the Caribbean, this sailing movie is about a group of students who embark on an educational sail aboard the wooden sailing ship, the Albatross. The ship encounters a storm at sea, or a “White Squall”, and sinks. Without giving too much away, the end of the movie was filmed at the College of Charleston’s Cistern Yard, which is where CofC students walk for graduation. P.S. – If you enjoy sailing, you should also check out our list of the best songs about sailing.
What are your favorite movies filmed in Charleston?