Jacksonville in the Movies
“On location in Jacksonville,” has been part of movie production history for over one hundred years. From the silent movie era to today’s modern films, it's entertaining to watch scenes with Jacksonville in the background.
The Kalem Company was the first of the northern film studios to setup in Jacksonville in 1908. The cast and crew stayed at the Roseland Hotel in the Fairfield area. They took the ferry across the St. Johns River to a place that was rich in locations. The area had creeks, old bridges, mansions, a railroad, and large oak trees with hanging Spanish moss that astonished audiences. This made Arlington the first “on location” movie set for the film industry.
Jacksonville became the "The Winter Film Capital of the World" with 26 movie companies setting up shop during the silent movie era. The industry would eventually move headquarters to Hollywood.
Norman Studios, in the Arlington neighborhood of Jacksonville, is the only remaining production complex from the silent movie era. Five buildings survive from a time when Richard Norman produced films starring African American characters. The organization has a popular program called “Silent Sundays” where they show classic films. Check the Norman Studios event calendar for silent movie showings.
The Museum of Science & History (MOSH) has a silent movie display in the Currents of Time exhibit. Two films play continuously, “The Siege of Petersburg” (Kalem, 1912) and an Oliver Hardy comedy called, “The Servant Girl’s Legacy” (Lubin, 1914).
Today, Hollywood is re-discovering Jacksonville. The city has a Film & Television Office that attracts many production companies. Some of the movies made in Jacksonville include: "G.I. Jane," "Devil’s Advocate," "Lonely Hearts," "Basic," "Recount" and "The Year of Getting to Know Us." For a highlight reel, check out, “We’ve Got the Pictures."
Interested in watching an original “reel to reel” movie? The Florida Theatre shows Summer Movie Classics on Sundays.
Explore, learn, and enjoy Jacksonville’s amazing history. Follow the map for descriptions of each film studio, movie house & theatre.
Jacksonville Film History Tour
Before there was a Hollywood, there was a Jacksonville - "The World’s Winter Film Capital." Follow along with these 17 stops on the film fun fact tour. You can also view the tour on the Visit Jax App!
Jacksonville was the original home to the winter silent film industry. At the turn of the century, the warm climate and access to the transcontinental rail lines made Duval the best place to make movies. The area was once home to over 30 film studios. Follow our Film History Tour to experience lights, camera and action right here in Jacksonville.
16 Jacksonville Film History Fun Facts
1. “Bouncing Baby,” a 1916 silent comedy, was filmed in Jacksonville and released in 1919. It is also the oldest film in the State Archives. The film is about a grown man who disguises himself as a baby with the help of his friend in order to steal from a wealthy family. The film includes sequences of a runaway baby carriage rolling down the street with the “baby” inside and a dramatic rooftop chase scene.
2. In 1916, a production company hired over a thousand local residents to film a mob scene, unfortunately a few in the crowd took their role too seriously, a real mob formed during the filming and spiraled out of control. It nearly destroyed a nearby saloon and a two-story building.
3. A thrilling scene in one movie being filmed in Jacksonville required a car to barrel down Main Street. Unfortunately, the vehicle accidentally splashed into the St. Johns River at the ferry dock, which was in the vicinity of today’s Riverfront Plaza.
4. Jacksonville native and best-selling author Brenda Jackson filmed her feature film “Truly Everlasting” in Jacksonville in 2011.
5. The St. Johns river played a stand-in for the Amazon River in "Revenge of Creature," a sequel to "Creature from the Black Lagoon," while a kidnap scene in the movie was filmed in a restaurant called Lobster House which was on the former site of River City Brewing Company.
6. Scenes from the Emmy award winning HBO movie "Recount" were filmed in Riverplace Tower. Most of its scenes feature several Jacksonville locations including the Seawalk Pavilion, the Jacksonville Beach City Hall and the Prime Osborne Convention Center.
7. "The Gulf Between," filmed in 1917 in Jacksonville, was the first Technicolor motion picture ever made. It was the first feature-length color movie produced in the United States.
8. Jacksonville was the home of Hardy, American comic actor and one half of Laurel and Hardy. The duo began in the era of silent films and lasted from 1927 to 1955. Hardy is largely considered one of the most popular comedians in American movie history.
9. The opening shot for the film "The Waterboy" was filmed at the then Alltel Stadium, now TIAA Bank Field, in 1998.
10. "The Flying Ace" filmed by Norman Studios, appears to have dueling planes but is actually the same plane filmed at different angles.
11. Much of Demi Moore's 1997 drama "G.I Jane" was shot in Jacksonville. The Navy SEAL training scenes during Hell Week took place at Huguenot Memorial Park. You can still see the ships that provided the beach scene backdrops at Naval Station Mayport across from the park.
12. Samuel L. Jackson became a regular patron at Bistro Aix during the filming of "Basic."
13. Riverside Theatre first opened in 1927 and was built in the Venetian style. Over the years the theatre has gone through many renovations. In the 1930s the theatre closed and reopened in 1948 as the Five Points Theatre. It closed again from 1972-1977 until it reopened as the River City Playhouse. In 1991, it became Club5 and then in 2008 it was sold and renamed the 5 Points Theatre. In 2011, it became Sun-Ray Cinema.
14. Founded in 1916 in Jacksonville, FL as Eagle Film City and then purchased by Richard E. Norman in 1921, the Norman Studios was among the nation’s first to produce “race films” starring African American characters in positive, non-stereotypical roles. Today, Norman’s five-building studio complex survives in Jacksonville’s Old Arlington neighborhood. Our 501(c)3 organization is working to reunify, restore and reopen this historic complex as a thriving community, learning, research and tourism center.
15. "Veer" was filmed in 2010 in Jacksonville using local crew & cast members and features the popular Kona Skatepark.
16. "Love Trap" was filmed on the campus of UNF by current professor and film director Frank B. Goodin II.