Las Vegas has been known as the Live Entertainment Capital of the World since the early days of The Rat Pack and Elvis Presley. But over the years, the city has made numerous appearances on the silver screen. Here are just ten of the movies that have been filmed in or taken place in Las Vegas:
Blade Runner 2049
Sin City makes a brief appearance in the sequel to the 1983 cult classic. The replicant known as K travels to Off-world in search of his identity, and his travels lead him to the barren, sand-filled remnants of Las Vegas. While the city merely serves a backdrop for a plot point in the film, the orange haze and radioactive glow, accompanied with the holograms of celebrities of days gone by add to the film’s dark, dystopic aesthetic.
Leaving Las Vegas
This 1995 film starring Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue was based off the 1990 debut novel of John O’Brien. In the movie, Ben Sanderson (played by Cage) is an alcoholic film agent who comes to end both his personal and professional lives in Sin City. Elisabeth Shue plays a prostitute who befriends Cage’s character and they end up falling for each other. The beauty and the tragedy of these two wayward souls is underscored by the bright, sometimes harsh, lights of the Las Vegas Strip, and serves a reminder that sometimes, all that glitters isn’t gold.
The Hangover is perhaps one of the top-rated comedies ever filmed in Las Vegas. Based on a real-life event, the film shadows a group of friends that come together for a bachelor party. After a little too much drinking and a little too much partying, the boys wake up the next day to find the groom-to-be has disappeared. Most of the principal photography was filmed in and around Caesar’s Palace, and the now-demolished Riviera. With guest appearances by Mike Tyson, Carrot Top and Wayne Newton, as well as an unforgettable performance by Ken Jeong, The Hangover will keep you laughing from start to finish.
Viva Las Vegas
Viva Las Vegas is another classic. This 1964 musical tells the story of a young racecar driver named Lucky Jackson (because what else could you name a character played by Elvis?) as he attempts to earn enough winnings to participate in the Grand Prix. It’s not the greatest film ever made, but it is definitely one of Presley’s best. The onscreen chemistry between Ann-Margaret and Elvis is enough to keep you glued to the screen, but the dance numbers and songs will get you off your feet.
Showgirls didn’t do particularly well at the box office, but this film about a young drifter who goes from stripper to showgirl did so well in video rentals, the movie became profitable. The main character is a tough-as-nails drifter named Nomi, and she goes from a faceless stripper to one of the top showgirls on the Las Vegas Strip. It’s one of the only NC-17 rated films to ever get a theatrical release, and is still regarded as a cult classic.
If you grew up in the 80s, chances are you’ve already seen Vegas Vacation. As just one in the long-line of the classic National Lampoon series, this film follows the Griswold family to Las Vegas as Clark and Ellen attempt to renew their wedding vows. The typical misadventures ensue as Clark attempts to win back their lost money, including a run-in with the legendary Wayne Newton. If you’ve never seen it, watch the entire Vacation series – but watch Vegas Vacation first.
Action movie lovers will want to see Jason Bourne. As the fourth installment in the Bourne movie franchise, it doesn’t vary greatly from the plot formula of its predecessors. However, the chase scene through the Las Vegas Strip alone is worth the 123 minutes of run time.
Last Vegas is a fun, family-friendly comedy that takes place (mostly) on the Las Vegas Strip. Starring Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Robert de Niro and Morgan Freeman, this film follows a group of friends as they throw a bachelor party for Douglas’ character. Described by The Guardian as The Hangover for an older generation (minus the tigers), this is a great movie to watch with your best friend, or your grandparents.
Fools Rush In
If you’re a fan of romantic comedies, you’ll love Fools Rush In. This 1997 romantic comedy, a young, ambitious real estate developer (played by Matthew Perry) comes to Las Vegas to start his dream job. After a one-night stand with a free-spirited photographer (Salma Hayek) and a surprise pregnancy, his priorities start to change. Hilarity ensues as they try to make a relationship work, full of cultural misunderstandings and missed opportunities. Perry and Hayek have incredible chemistry on screen, and their comedic timing and endearing performances make it a romantic comedy well worth watching.
Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas is a cult classic. Based on the 1973 book of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson, Fear is a wild, drug-induced joyride that follows a journalist and his lawyer to Las Vegas to cover the Mint 400 race. The journalist, Raoul Drake (played by Johnny Depp) is knee-deep in mescaline for most of the film, as he bounces from hotel to hotel and escapes a host of sticky situations in pursuit of the American dream.