Las Vegas is no stranger to being featured on the big screen

Most famous movies to film in or feature Las Vegas
Posted at 8:55 AM, Feb 03, 2020

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — When it comes to making movies, Nevada and the City of Las Vegas are no strangers to the big screen.

With the help of the Nevada Film Office, we're taking a trip back in time to feature some of the most famous films ever shot in the Las Vegas valley.

RELATED: 13 Action News celebrates The Oscars with a look at film and Las Vegas


The stars and soundtrack from "Viva Las Vegas" helped put the valley on the movie-making map. Elvis Presley sings and stars in the 1964 movie musical. Between filming downtown, in Henderson, and on Lake Mead, Elvis reportedly found real-life romance with his costar Ann-Margaret.

"When you have a true entertainer like that, they're going to come to Vegas to tell those stories,"said Eric Preiss, director of the Nevada Film Office. "That's what Vegas represents, a place for people to come to tell a story."


In 1995, director Martin Scorsese came to Las Vegas to tell a cruel and criminal story about Sin City in the 1970s while filming the critically-acclaimed classic "Casino." According to the International Movie Database (IMDB), Scorcese filmed the entire movie in Nevada, including several casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.

"Films like that, they set a tone," said Preiss. "They tell a story that fits the vibe of Las Vegas that becomes part of the culture."


This list wouldn't be complete without Nicolas Cage.

Before making the valley his home, Cage starred in two famous Las Vegas films. First, as a suicidal alcoholic who finds love in the 1997 romantic drama, "Leaving Las Vegas," a role that won Cage the Oscar for best actor in a leading role.

Cage came back to Las Vegas two years later, this time as a convict on board "Con Air," the plane turned flying prison that was famously forced to land on the Las Vegas Strip.

"He has a following of people that, when he's in a movie, they want to go see it. Now, he happens to be a Las Vegas resident now. He loves the city and he wants to continue to make films here," said Preiss.


In 2001, the Fountains at Bellagio became the backdrop for one of the most famous heists in movie history. "Ocean's Eleven" followed a star studded cast all over the Strip as they outsmarted casino security staffs on their mission to steal $150 million.

"When you see George Clooney running around and Brad Pitt running around and the excitement of the casino and the heist, again, people live for the exciting stories. And when they see them, it inspires them to want to go visit that place," said Preiss.



Some of the most famous films and scenes in Las Vegas history were shot at Caesars Palace, including "The Big Short," "Rain Man," and "The Hangover."

At the time of filming in 2009, Preiss says the movie's main characters, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis, were relatively unknown actors and not many expected "The Hangover" to be one of the funniest films of all time.

"It captures a cultural zeitgeist and goes on to be one of the highest rated comedies of all time, $500 million in the box office. No one expects this. Caesars Palace prominently displayed, the city on display, and it generated attention around Las Vegas that we still talk about today," said Preiss.


Some other famous films featuring ties to Nevada and/or Las Vegas include: "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid," "Mars Attacks!" "Jason Bourne," "Swingers," "Diamonds are Forever," "21," and "Knocked Up."

The film scene is so famous here in Las Vegas, that the Nevada Film Office created a filming locations database so locals and tourists can visit the same spots where their favorite movies were shot.

To check it out, click this link.

13 Action News is celebrating the 92nd Academy Awards with stories related to the film industry this week. The Oscars will air on KTNV-TV Channel 13 at 5 p.m. Sunday.