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UTAH — We love to do end-of-year lists every December and January, but it’s only once every 10 years we get to do end-of-decade lists. I’m happy I get to do another one for your enjoyment as we look at some of the films made in the great state of Utah this last decade.
Utah is no stranger to Hollywood, as it is the home of the Sundance Film Festival. Iconic movies like "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and epic blockbusters like "Independence Day" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" were made here, as were absurd comedies like "Dumb and Dumber." Utah is a favorite filming destination for many studios and filmmakers, and they made that known over the last decade.
Some of the movies on this list are known as artsy masterpieces; others were big-budget popcorn flicks. There are also some box office bombs in the mix. Whatever the films may have become they all show off the natural beauty of our western home.
Here is a list of 10 of the movies made in Utah over the last 10 years:
"127 Hours" (2010)
Filming location: Moab
In 2003, Aron Ralston was canyoneering through Bluejohn Canyon in Southern Utah when he had an accident that pinned his arm. Ralston eventually cut off his own limb to free himself and hike to safety. In 2010, Academy Award-winning director Danny Boyle brought Ralston’s story to the big screen with James Franco playing Ralston. Thankfully, Boyle decided to film in Utah where the story actually took place.
"127 Hours" went on to make $60 million worldwide and earned six Oscar nominations.
"The Tree of Life" (2011)
Filming locations: Bonneville Salt Flats, Goblin Valley State Park
Terrence Malick is known for making really beautiful films that aren’t easily accessible, and 2011’s "The Tree of Life" is no exception. While the story doesn’t have anything to do with Utah, it did film several scenes in the state, which Malick seemed to pick for its picturesque beauty.
"The Tree of Life" was nominated for three Academy Awards including best cinematography.
"John Carter" (2012)
Filming locations: Moab, Big Water, Millard County, Lake Powell
Disney’s "John Carter" is known as one of the biggest flops in movie history. It’s estimated the film lost more than $120 million and cemented itself in film history, and not for good reasons.
While the film was a box office disaster, it was also shot extensively in Utah.
"The Lone Ranger" (2013)
Filming locations: Monument Valley, Moab, Dead Horse Point State Park
Disney decided to film another big-budget flick in Utah this decade, and that was "The Lone Ranger." While it didn’t bomb as badly as "John Carter" a year before, it did lose tens of millions of dollars.
The film was panned by critics and audiences, but the beauty of its surroundings in places like Moab and Monument Valley could not be denied.
Filming location: Lake Powell
The 2013 film "Gravity" was a spectacle and won the accolades of many critics, fans and award panels. The film is a visual feast, and most of it was shot in a studio in England. In fact, the entire film was shot in the studio except for two locations: Outer space and Lake Powell.
Director Alfonso Cuarón is serious about the beauty of his visuals, and he knew Utah was the place to go for his non-studio or space shots.
"Gravity" earned 10 Academy Award nominations and won seven, including cinematography.
"The Giver" (2014)
Filming location: Unspecified
The 2014 film "The Giver" was filmed in England, South Africa and Utah. While it’s hard to find anything pinpointing exactly where filming took place, the film wrapped production in Utah in February of 2014.
The movie received favorable reviews and was considered a box office success when compared with its budget.
Filming locations: Monument Valley, Moab
Utah has seen a blockbuster or two in its day, and the biggest to visit in the 2010s was "Transformers: Age of Extinction."
The fourth film in the series starred Mark Wahlberg and was filmed all over the world. Locations included Hong Kong, Chicago, Iceland, Beijing and Utah.
"Age of Extinction" made over $1 billion at the worldwide box office and helped spawn a sequel three years later.
"Wind River" (2017)
Filming locations: Park City, Coalville, Hidden Peak, Snowbird
The 2017 film "Wind River" may take place in Wyoming, but it was shot here in Utah. The dark mystery movie used Utah’s mountains and the “greatest snow on Earth” as its background. The movie was a critical success earning an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it wasn’t just critics who liked the movie. The audience score sits at a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the film earned nearly $40 million worldwide against an $11 million budget.
Writer and director Taylor Sheridan liked Utah so much that he now shoots his acclaimed TV series "Yellowstone" here as well. I'm not sure why he always likes placing his stories in Wyoming and shooting them in Utah, but we’re glad he recognizes the state's beauty.
"Brigsby Bear" (2017)
Filming locations: Salt Lake City
For every "Transformers" movie made in Utah there are usually several smaller films made in the Beehive state. The 2017 independent film "Brigsby Bear" was filmed in Salt Lake and earned a spot in the Sundance Film Festival. The odd comedy/drama has an 82% critic score and an 86% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
"Molly's Game" (2017)
Filming location: Park City
Academy Award-winning writer Aaron Sorkin made his directorial debut in 2017 with "Molly’s Game." The film tells the true story of Molly Bloom, a former Olympic skier who eventually ran the world’s most exclusive high-stakes poker game.
The movie takes place mainly in New York, but the real Bloom trained and lived in Park City when she was a skier, and Sorkin decided to shoot those scenes where they actually took place.
"Molly’s Game" earned one Academy Award for writing, as well as an 82% critics score and an 84% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
What are some of your favorite movies filmed in Utah over the last decade? Let us know in the comments.