15 Washington DC Movies That Celebrate (and were filmed in!) Our Nation’s Capitol!

Time to make a cake for the District of Columbia! Washington D.C. turns 222 on July 16th. The federal district, which is home to nearly 6 million people, is considered to be one of the most expensive places to live in America. It’s where the magic happens in the political world and who can resist that world when it comes to movie plots? Not Hollywood!

There are over 175 films set in Washington D.C. but it is rare for films to actually film within the district. Recently the DCist talked about why it is so difficult for movies to be made in the nation’s capital.

Benjamin Freed of the DCist says, “Many states, including Virginia, offer generous givebacks to production companies that bring in their business—along with the movie stars, crew members, jobs and hotel stays that come with them. For shooting Lincoln in Virginia, DreamWorks Studios got $4.5 million back. D.C., on the other hand, hasn’t paid out a cent in film incentives since 2010.”

Hopefully after the success of Lincoln Washington D.C. will revisit filming policies so that it will be easier for filmmakers to make movies that honestly showcase the beauty and majesty of our capital. This collection of films are movies that have scenes that were ACTUALLY filmed in Washington D.C.  - we can’t wait to add to the list!

15 Washington DC Movies Filmed On Location

  • Movies Filmed in Washington DC 1 of 16
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    If you have ever had your hometown featured in a movie, you know how great it is to see it up on the big screen. Imagine how it must feel if they recreated your town on a backlot? These movies use the real-deal location for Washington D.C.

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia, author art

  • The American President 2 of 16
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    The American President is one of those films I will always drop everything and watch.  It has the authenticity of Aaron Sorkin and the heart of Rob Reiner. While the East and West wings of the White House in the movie were built on a studio lot in Culver City, many exterior scenes were actually filmed in Washington D.C.

     

    (The set of the oval office from The American President was later used on Sorkin's The West Wing.)

     

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Wag the Dog 3 of 16
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    Wag the Dog is another film with an amazing writer/director combination. It will take you exactly one minute into the film to recognize the biting wit of David Mamet in the script, and the style is all Baltimore native Barry Levinson. Wag the Dog had a tiny budget and a very small shooting schedule. Barry insisted on using actual D.C. locations in the film wherever possible, so for 3 days they shot at an intersection bordering the White House, a Capitol Hill neighborhood, and the historical Hay-Adams Hotel.  

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • The Silence of the Lambs 4 of 16
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    The 1991 Jodie Foster thriller, The Silence of the Lambs, takes place in many locations around the D.C. area. The filming, however, happened mostly in Pennsylvania. When it came time to film the director of the F.B.I.'s office, the film went to Washington D.C. and used  Elizabeth Dole's Secretary of Labor office.

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • The Contender 5 of 16
    The-contender

    The Contender was filmed mostly in Washington D.C.'s neighbor Richmond, Virginia. Exterior scenes and famous landmarks are all that are authentically D.C. in the film. The rest is a Washington recreated by an amazing production crew

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • X-Men 6 of 16
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    Much of what you see in the first X-Men was filmed in Canada and made to look like famous American landmarks. It is listed as being filmed in Washington D.C. but I couldn't find any location logs to identify what parts of D.C. were in the film. Since the release of the first X-Men many of the sequels have filmed in the capitol

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Minority Report 7 of 16
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    The Tom Cruise horror/ sci-fi film, The Minority Report, takes place in many locations across America. The film's Department of Precrime exterior is actually the Reagan Trade Center. There is even a Georgetown Gap in the film.

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • No Way Out 8 of 16
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    The Washington Post says No Way Out is the perfect Washington D.C. movie to watch. They say, "It not only was filmed in and around the nation's capital, but it includes political scandal, an above-the-law political aide, a cover-up, Russians, spies, the Pentagon, the CIA, hired assassins, military officers, the defense department, and a beautiful woman."

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • St. Elmo’s Fire 9 of 16
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    St. Elmo's Fire is about graduates of Georgetown University in Washington D.C., and the bar they frequent is very much an actual bar in Georgetown. The Tombs has even been called the very inspiration for the movie. Most of the Joel Schumacher film was filmed in Georgetown and around Washington D.C.

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Patriot Games 10 of 16
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    Based on the Tom Clancy book of the same name, Patriot Games is a 1992 spy thriller that is OH MY HEAVENS SO GOOD, and has many locations in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Maryland. 

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • In the Line of Fire 11 of 16
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    In the Line of Fire has many scenes filmed in Washington D.C. and surrounding areas. Many of the scenes have been featured on the awesome Filming Locations Detective site, a place for locals to upload stills of movies and find out exactly where a location is. 

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • JFK 12 of 16
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    Ten percent of JFK's $40 million dollar budget was spent restoring Dealey Plaza in Dallas to 1963 conditions. Where possible, director Oliver Stone had his Cinematographer Robert Richardson shoot and include footage from Washington D.C. The challenge was making it match the era of the film.

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Broadcast News 13 of 16
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    Broadcast News is one of my favorite movies. It is a classic story of journalism that still holds up today. (In other words - watch it!) The movie is filmed almost entirely in Washington D.C., and Yuri from Movie Tourist has done a brilliant job of detailing the locations of many scenes. 

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Election 14 of 16
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    Spoiler alert! The final scene of the 1999 film Election takes place in Washington D.C. when a certain cast member is scene climbing into the car of a politician's limo. Parts of the Georgetown campus are also included in the film.

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia

  • Air Force One 15 of 16
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    There is only one little bit of authentic Washington D.C. in Air Force One. Just a little house at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue... While most of the nation's capital was recreated in other cities or backlots, the actual White House is in the movie.

     

    Image Credit; Wikimedia

  • All the President’s Men 16 of 16
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    There is no shortage of Washington D.C. locations in All the President's Men. The Washington Post created a list and it includes: The Watergate; Hotel Washington; Lincoln Memorial; Jefferson Memorial; Library of Congress; Capitol; White House; The Washington Post parking lot; Department of Justice Building; Lafayette Square; Kennedy Center, and many more.

     

    Image Credit: Wikimedia


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