There is a recent article on Arizona Central touting Arizona’s contribution to the movie industry. Sure, it’s great for the economy and it’s nice to see places you’re familiar with on the big screen. Although Arizonans are proud to have their state used as a movie set, I can see through the Hollywood glitter for the real reason why Arizona is chosen for movies.
Let’s face it, Arizona is a butt-ugly state – especially the deserts. There are certain parts of Arizona that looks more like Mars than on Earth. In the 1968 version of “Planet of the Apes”, Charlton Heston starred as an astronaut who crash lands on a strange planet. That strange planet is actually Lake Powell, just north of Phoenix. The director, Steven Ward, describes the scene as the actors “walking through the desolate, barren, forbidding lands”. I find that description accurate, and mirrors my opinion of the desert.
If you take a look at this list of movies filmed in Arizona, you will notice most of them are either westerns or science fiction films. Arizona’s unusual landscape can easily be portrayed as another planet, such as in George Lucas’ space adventures. It’s a stretch to say Arizona is chosen for filming because of its beauty. I think the real reason filmmakers come to Arizona is because it’s just too ugly to be real. But, it IS real and it’s our every day hell we deal with living in Arizona.