A big part of any film’s budget concerns the set — finding and renting a location, altering its look, and sometimes building the whole thing from scratch. Usually the crew strikes everything after filming wraps, but sometimes they leave things in place for future films, or at the property owner’s request, or because they ran out of money for the demolition. Here’s what happened to 16 sets after filming folded.
Matamata, New Zealand
Hobbiton, New Zealand (photograph by Anup Shah)
New Zealand sheep farmer Dean Alexander had never heard of Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy before 1998, when director Peter Jackson approached him about filming on part of his property. With Alexander’s blessing, Jackson turned 12 acres of the family ranch into Hobbiton, the idyllic village from which Frodo Baggins sets off on his quest.
Inside Hobbiton (photograph by Rob Chandler)
The Lord of The Rings set was temporary, but tourist attention from fans brought Alexander to restore some of the “hobbit holes” for visitors, and when Jackson returned to reconstruct the set for The Hobbit trilogy, he built it to stay. Today the Alexanders offer tours of “the real Middle Earth” — the hobbit-holes and gardens of Hobbiton, topped off with lunch at the film’s Green Dragon Inn — in addition to maintaining their sheep farm.
A "Hobbit Hole" (photograph by Anup Shah)
North of Montgomery, Alabama
Spectre in 2006 (photograph by sunsurfr/Flickr user)
In director Tim Burton’s grown-up fairy tale Big Fish, Ewan McGregor is a young traveler who discovers the town of Spectre hidden in the Alabama woods. It’s a tempting spot to settle — everyone is friendly, there are no roads, and the town sits on grass so lush that everyone goes barefoot — but McGregor’s character still decides to move on.
Burton also moved on after filming wrapped in 2003, leaving the houses, stores, and chapel of Spectre in place for other wanderers to find (with permission from the property owner). Sadly, recent adventurers report that all but the chapel and a house or two have collapsed.
Popeye Village (photograph by Edwinb/Wikimedia)
Robert Altman’s 1980 film adaptation of the comic Popeye suffered at the box office, but the nation of Malta has done very well with the film’s set, turning it into the Popeye Village theme park.
The park preserves the original 20 buildings constructed for Popeye’s “Sweethaven” setting, and adds a museum devoted to the movie’s history. It also stages shows featuring Popeye and Olive Oyl, and scenic boat tours of the village and its bay.