This Popular California College Campus Is Considered The Most Filmed In The World

Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., and ... University of Southern California? If you're already thinking, "One of these Los Angeles locations is not like the other," — not so fast! They all have something major in common: Some of our most beloved movies and TV shows were filmed there.

In fact, USC is the most filmed college campus in the world — it's been featured in 177 films and television series, according to Oxford Royale. Although USC rarely plays itself onscreen, the top-tier college campus is the backdrop for everything from the Harvard Law scenes in "Legally Blonde" to Forrest Gump's graduation from the University of Alabama.

"USC has such a distinguished history of being featured in so many films, television shows, and commercials going back to the 1930s, when Laurel and Hardy made their way down what is now West 34th Street," director of USC campus filming Torie Daves told USC News.

The production companies often choose USC because of its "ivy-league look" and its convenient location right in Los Angeles, as per Daves. And the university will say yes to film crews — for the right price, of course. According to Oxford Royale, companies can expect to shell out over $1,000 an hour to film at the baseball stadium and $750 an hour for the Bovard Auditorium.

Why USC is seen (but not mentioned) in so many movies and shows

The university may benefit financially from its steady stream of lead roles, but don't expect to hear its name onscreen. While USC serves as a filming location for many college scenes, it doesn't necessarily want its name associated with the content. For example, "Legally Blonde" is based on a book in which Elle Woods' character attended USC for undergrad — but she earns her bachelor's degree from a fictional university (CULA) in the movie, according to The Los Angeles Times

"[The producers of the film] asked if they could set the film at USC, but the images of her as an undergraduate and being in a sorority ... we felt there was too much stereotyping going on," Elijah May, campus filming coordinator at USC, told The Los Angeles Times. Fair enough! Meanwhile, Harvard itself no longer allows filming on campus, per Oxford Royale. Before the rule was established in 1970, 46 movies and TV shows were filmed there. 

Harvard receives about five calls each day requesting use for filming, so it's certainly in high demand. "[T]he campus could turn into a soundstage given the interest," university spokesperson Joe Wrinn told The Harvard Crimson. But all these requests are denied due to concerns that it would be disruptive for the students on campus. However, the university's stance on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech means that it's frequently referenced in movies and TV shows, the Los Angeles Times notes. 

USC is a versatile filming location

Thanks to its aforementioned "ivy-league look" and location, USC is featured in many films as a college campus. But it's certainly not limited to school scenes. "We are able to offer productions such a wide range of venues in which to film, from our traditional brick buildings to athletic venues to art galleries and restaurants, so it makes USC a much sought-after location," Daves explained to USC News.

For example, Dedeaux Field is the perfect spot to get excellent baseball shots. According to Seeing Stars, the iconic baseball film "A League of Their Own" shot multiple scenes at the field, as did "For Love of the Game" and "Mr. Baseball."

USC's Doheny Memorial Library is absolutely beautiful. It was shown as Matilda Wormwood's local library in "Matilda" (per Oxford Royale) and is one of the most frequently used buildings on campus by production crews. So, next time you're in Los Angeles and want to experience a film set, think outside the box and spend some time in USC's library or check out the baseball stadium.