Have You Seen the Top 10 Michigan-made Movies?

Modified: March 06, 2019 | Story by Stephanie Angelyn Casola | Photos by Bill Bowen

Ask a film director. From Detroit’s futuristic skyline to Michigan towns that take on the quaint charm of another era, Michigan has always had a lot to offer when it comes to movie locations.

More than 300 movies have been made across Michigan since 1946 – many focused on Detroit. Some of the best-loved or most highly acclaimed films fall into genres like crime drama, documentary or suspense. We’ve ranked the top 10 films made in Michigan, with help from Rotten Tomatoes own tomatometer. See if you agree:

  1. Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder was released in 1959 and featured Jimmy Stewart as small-town lawyer Paul Biegler, set to defend an Army lieutenant on trial for the murder. On Location: Look for the Marquette County Courthouse in Marquette, Michigan. Rating: 100% Year: 1959
  2. Filmed in Detroit and Kalamazoo, Blue Collar stars Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel and Yaphet Kotto as three autoworkers who dare to rob the local unions’ safe – only to fall deeper into a blackmail scheme. Director Paul Schrader interviewed auto workers in Detroit prior to writing his script. On Location: A Checker Cab Company in Kalamazoo doubled as an auto assembly plant. In Detroit, the Ford River Rouge Complex and Belle Isle’s MacArther Bridge make cameos. Rating: 100% Year: 1978
  3. Michael Moore returned home to Flint for his first documentary, Roger and Me. The moving exploration of how the loss of 11 automotive plants in the city contributed to considerable hardship. Moore confronted GM’s then-CEO Roger B. Smith regarding the impact of putting more than 3,600 people out of work. On Location: Moore filmed in Detroit and Flint on his search for answers. Rating: 100% Year: 1989
  4. Birmingham native Sam Raimi solidified his expertise in horror with the sequel to The Evil Dead. The Evil Dead II  reunites Raimi with the lone survivor and hero Ash (Bruce Campbell) as flesh-eating demons continue their attack on unsuspecting victims. On Location: Though much of the movie is filmed in North Carolina, Raimi and Campbell returned to their home state to film re-shoots around Detroit. Rating: 98% Year: 1987
  5. Writer-Director David Robert Mitchell unleashed It Follows in 2014, carrying on a history of horror movies in Michigan. As much a social commentary as claustrophobic mystery, the movie introduces a supernatural and deadly force that leaves an unsuspecting teenager girl fighting to survive. On Location: Look out for the historic Redford Theatre, Clark’s Ice Cream and Yogurt in Berkley, Northville Psychiatric Hospital in Northville, Troy’s Jaycee Park, Detroit’s Packard Plant and the Water Works Park. Schools included University of Detroit and Clawson High School. Rating: 97% Year: 2014
  6. Documentarian Michael Moore returned with a chilling exploration of gun violence in America for 2002’s Bowling for Columbine. This time he includes interviews or footage of Charlton Heston, an NRA supporter and rock star Marilyn Manson. On Location: From Oscoda County to Flint, Fenton and Decker, Michigan appears throughout the story. Rating: 96% Year: 2002
  7. Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin starred in the 1987 action comedy crime spree Midnight Run. The movie focused on an accountant who is chased by everyone from the FBI to the Mafia after he flees bail. On Location: Look for the Michigan Central Railroad Niles Depot in Niles, Michigan. Rating: 96% Year: 1987
  8. Out Of Sight brought serious star power to its Michigan filming locations, namely George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez. In a story written by Michigan’s own Elmore Leonard and directed by Steven Soderbergh (Oceans 11, Traffic), Out of Sight introduced audiences to a charming bank robber who – amid a con – falls for the U.S. Marshall he kidnapped. On Location: Filming took place in Bloomfield Hills and Detroit. Keep an eye out for scenes in the restaurant that once revolved atop the GM Renaissance Center, at Kronk Gym and The Fillmore (formerly the State Theater). Rating: 93% Year: 1998
  9. Standing in the Shadows of Motown tells the story behind the music that put Detroit on the map. Motown Records may have been the catalyst for the Motown sound, but behind so many of the stars we know by name were a group of legendary Detroit musicians known as The Funk Brothers. Assembled by Berry Gordy Jr. these musicians performed on every hit song made during a 14-year period, and can be connected to more number one hit songs than any other performer. On Location: Detroit is on display in this film – which shot at such significant locations as Royal Oak Music Theatre, Belle Isle’s Bridge and Conservatory, The Roostertail, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge and Ann Arbor’s Encore Recordings. Rating: 92% Year: 2002
  10. Penned by Quentin Tarantino, True Romance has a stellar cast that included Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette and Dennis Hopper. The no-hold-barred crime drama set in Detroit pairs a lonely geek with a call girl. When they dare to steal cocaine from her pimp and flee to Hollywood, the mob chase after them. On Location: Filmed in Detroit and Los Angeles, look for Packard Plant, the Detroit River and – when the pair get married – the Wayne County Building to make an appearance. Rating: 92% Year: 1993

Even more film favorites just missed the top 10. Our honorable mentions go to the pivotal 1991 Madonna documentary Truth or Dare; the 2012 vampire romance Only Lovers Left Alive shot in Brush Park and 1984’s Beverly Hills Cop, starring Eddie Murphy.



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Mentioned Attractions And Venues

  1. 1
    Belle Isle State Park
    99 Pleasure Drive, Detroit, MI 48207
  2. 2
    The Fillmore Detroit
    2115 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48201
  3. 3
    Royal Oak Music Theatre
    318 W. 4th St., Royal Oak, MI 48067
  4. 4
    100 Marquette Drive, Detroit, MI 48214