Hollywood Comes to Hillsborough
What is better than watching your favorite movie, and witnessing its different settings flash before your eyes? Visiting those same locales where the movie was filmed, enhancing the movie-watching experience even more.
Residents and visitors alike can take a stroll through that cinematic world in the comforts of Tampa, Plant City, and other parts of Hillsborough County. As the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences announces its Oscar winners on Feb. 24, here are five films whose stories were enriched by their Hillsborough County settings.
No Postage Necessary (2017)
Plant City was the No. 1 filming locale for this independent rom-com about a convicted computer hacker who, while stealing mail in search of cash, falls in love with a woman after reading her letters. "No Postage Necessary" features numerous local settings, including the Florida Strawberry Festival fairgrounds, Historic Downtown Plant City, Twistee Treat on James Redman Parkway, and Bryan Elementary School. Florida Strawberry Festival Queen's Court member Ashtyn Steele served as a stand-in for the film's star, Charleene Closshey, who happens to be a native of Plant City and was named Miss Tampa in 2003, adding even more Hillsborough County flavor to the movie.
The Infiltrator (2016)
This true-life thriller starring Bryan Cranston brought Hillsborough into the spotlight recently with its various local spots, such as Hyde Park, Cephas Hot Shop Restaurant in Ybor City, Port of Tampa Bay, and the Tampa Theatre, where audiences are introduced to the cigar-smoking cartel lieutenant Roberto Alcaino, played by Benjamin Bratt.
The Parent Trap (1986)
This Hayley Mills rom com made Tampa its home while filming all the school scenes at Mitchell Elementary School on Bungalow Park Avenue. Both the school and its name were used for the story, and the building is still used for classes today.
The Punisher (2004)
Hillsborough County played a significant role in this Marvel Action yarn starring John Travolta and Thomas Jane. In addition to the Sykes Building, the Falk Theatre, the federal courthouse, and University of Tampa, 700 N. Nebraska Ave. (which is now a parking lot) served as the Punisher's headquarters. Travolta's villainous Howard Saint was also seen at 100 N. Tampa Street's mirrored skyscraper and penthouse (which served as his office and walk-in vault), The Claw at USF Golf Course, and the area encompassing West Twiggs Street at North Ashley where - spoiler alert - Travolta's death scene was filmed.
Good Fellas (1991)
A director known for adding meticulous authenticity to his films, Martin Scorsese crafted his cinematic classic mostly in New York and New Jersey. However, Hillsborough County gets a humorous callout in one scene where Robert DeNiro and Ray Liotta attempt to extract a payment from a negligent gambler by threatening to feed him to a lion at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
Director Tim Burton visited Hillsborough to create his latest fantasy flick, which was based on Ransom Riggs' best-selling children's book. Take a ride down the three-mile long Gandy Bridge in Tampa, or take a casual walk around Sun City Center, where Grandpa Abe's (played by Terence Stamp) house and neighborhood were filmed.