once the director yells “that’s the end!” the props go to museums, auction houses, private collections and studio warehouses, but what about the sets themselves?
It may surprise you, but demolition is the most common destination for movie set constructions. in other cases, the assemblies are reused or recycled. if they’re from a particularly iconic movie, the sets can rest forever in the back lot of the movie studio. sets are sometimes bought by eccentric actors, prop houses, or simply abandoned.
Sets are often built quickly, using the cheapest materials possible. set designers know the bare minimum to make the sets look real on film.
for example, ron howard’s “how the grinch stole christmas” from 2000 was used in some holiday events and featured in parking lot tours for a few months, but in april 2020, it was fully shown. Although the impressive-looking set used whimsical architecture, 1938 candy canes, and enough artificial snow to cover nine football fields, the sets were not built to withstand the heat of the sun, and much of the paint had faded. /p>
even more egregiously, mgm burned down the 1930s “king kong” town to film the atlanta fire and make room for the plantation set in the already over-budgeted “gone with the wind”.
Not only is it heartbreaking from a sentimental perspective when you think of all the hard work that went into creating these sets, but a large film set can generate 225 tons of scrap metal and nearly 50 tons of construction debris, so hopefully filmmakers will look to alternative ends for their sets as we move towards a less wasteful society.
Productions big and small often demolish their sets, but movies that don’t hit the budget may have no choice but to try to resell or reuse some or all of it. conversely, high-end blockbuster movies may have sets that were designed to be separated and stored.
The film set for the TV show “friends,” for example, was recreated for the reunion 17 years after the finale, though locating every piece wasn’t easy. although they had to rebuild the main stage, which had been altered so much that it could not be relocated, the actors’ apartments were largely intact. where they couldn’t accurately replicate the set, they used flowers to mask it, prompting art director greg grande to quip, “who died?”
Other examples of repurposed sets include: the “war of the worlds” plane crash set (reused in “scary movie 4” and a rihanna music video); the Nazi submarine from “das boot” (reused —and damaged— “in search of the lost ark”); the “dark city” sets reused in “the matrix”; and the original “phantom of the opera” theater on loan for a new “muppets” movie.
Studio tours are a fun experience for moviegoers, offering them the chance to see some of their favorite carefully preserved sets. For example, Warner Bros. houses sets from TV shows like “Friends,” “The Big Bang Theory,” and “Ellen,” as well as movies like “Harry Potter” and the Batcave from “Batman.”
Universal Studios Back Lot Tour Includes Sets From “Back II The Future”, “Jurassic Park”, “Pirates Of The Caribbean”, “Apollo 13”, “Transformers”, “Jaws”, “Psycho”, And ” gremlins.”
Sometimes, at the request of the property owner or due to budget concerns, film sets are simply left behind. One of the most famous examples is the 12-acre set from “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” franchises that still stands in Matamata, New Zealand. The fictional town of Tim Burton’s specter from “Big Fish” sits on an island in the middle of a river in Alabama, looking just as deliberately dilapidated as it did when it was first built in 2003.
in tunisia, the planet of tatooine from “star wars”, reused as mos espa in “the mandalorian” and “book of boba fett”, remains a popular tourist attraction when not used in filming. Similarly, Belfast tour operators offer to take fans to a number of “Game of Thrones” movie sets, including Winterfell, the Crypts, an archery range and the old castle room where Bran was thrown out the window.
After starring in the infamous 1980 movie “Heaven’s Gate,” Jeff Bridges jumped at the opportunity to purchase the set’s cabin, “pig ranch” whorehouse, and barn. the hand-carved logs were disassembled, numbered, driven 200 miles south to his ranch and rebuilt. the bullet holes are still in the log cabin.
Finally, you can also find fixed parts at a salvage and rental facility. At Movie Prop Rental Warehouse, we not only have tens of thousands of props available to buy or rent, but we also have sets for Wild West movies, space thrillers, ancient Egyptian adventures, and more. If we don’t already have it in stock, we can create it for you in our foam fabrication and 3d printing studio next door. Contact Movie Prop Rentals for a free quote on movie set construction to determine how to make your Hollywood dreams come true.