The Most-Filmed Airport In The U.S. Is In This Popular City

Location is a crucial aspect of any movie. The right place greatly influences style and mood, often amplifying romantic moments, creating tension between characters, or adding drama to important scenes. Airports — which are already full of romance, tension, and drama — make unique filming locations. Full of quick hellos, long goodbyes, delayed departures, and anticipated arrivals, airports in popular cities are visited often and easily recognizable. And one airport, in particular, has graced the silver screen enough to solidify its position as the most filmed airport in the United States.

Los Angeles International Airport, also known by its airport code LAX, is located in West Los Angeles. In 2019, around 88.1 million passengers used the Southern California airport. Serving 113 U.S. destinations and 46 countries, the famous airport is, in a word, busy. And it's not only popular for tourists and travelers. The transport hub is the most-filmed airport in the U.S. According to Vivid Maps, LAX even made the top 20 most filmed locations in the U.S., landing a prime spot at No. 14.

What famous movies were filmed at LAX?

Los Angeles is full of famous movie sites. According to IMDb, a whopping 325 titles have chosen LAX as a filming site as of August 2023. Cinematography at this popular airport began as early as 1932 with the Oscar-nominated "Emma." In this comedy-drama starring Marie Dressler and Richard Cromwell, all airport scenes were filmed at Mines Field, now officially known as LAX. Since this classic film, many more followed in its footsteps. A few fan favorites include "Airplane," "Speed," and "Die Hard."

In "Airplane," shot mainly at LAX, the movie follows an ex-fighter pilot with a fear of flying. He boards a flight from LAX to Chicago to win back the woman he loves and ends up having to take control of the plane after the crew becomes incapacitated. In "Speed," a packed bus armed with a bomb breaks through a gate at LAX and rushes onto the tarmac. The bus moves between runways, eventually crashing into an aircraft carrier near the American Airlines aircraft maintenance facility. The action in "Die Hard" kicks off at LAX with John McClane (Bruce Willis) arriving at the airport to spend Christmas with his estranged wife and their children. Exiting the airport, he's unaware of the iconic adventure that awaits.

LAX is also a popular filming site for music videos. One of the most famous is the Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way." Filmed mostly at LAX, the Tom Bradley International Terminal is the background for the guys during the chorus. 

More famous Hollywood filming sites in Los Angeles

Planning the perfect weekend in Los Angeles should include a few stops at Los Angeles filming sites. From downtown skyscrapers to the West Coast's beautiful beaches, there are so many movie locations in Los Angeles that tourists can actually visit after they fly into Los Angeles International Airport and see the filming sites there.

Griffith Park is one of the most recognizable filming sites. It consists of over 4,000 acres of terrain to explore, and so many movies were filmed here, including the infamous "La La Land." Who could forget the iconic tap dancing scene where Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling lit up the screen to "A Lovely Night?" This was filmed on a quiet street in Griffith Park called Cathy's Corner, which overlooks the San Fernando Valley.  

Also in Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory is the site of a pivotal moment in "Charlies Angels: Full Throttle." Just outside the building is where the Angels find out that the villain (Demi Moore) is actually an Angel just like them. Another Griffith Observatory filming spot, in "Rebel Without A Cause," James Dean and Natalie Woods attend a school trip to the planetarium inside the Griffith Observatory. And the iconic knife fight happens just outside. There's even a James Dean statue on the west side of the Griffith Observatory lawn. In a nutshell, the center of the American film industry is the ideal city to spot filming sites, and the sightseeing starts the moment you arrive at LAX.