Movie Stills Superimposed Over Real-Life Locations
There’s something about seeing people and places in movies and on television that makes them seem separate from the real world. Unless characters and settings are created with CGI and special effects, these cinematic elements are just as real as anyone and anything else. Nowadays, with the internet, people at home have access to the celebrities they love and are able to see them living their daily lives. Similarly, with the help of people like Christopher Moloney, a photographer who loves travel and cinema, fans can connect with the locations of their favorite scenes, as well.
The image above is of James Dean in one of the most iconic shots from the classic Rebel Without A Cause. Moloney, who goes by “moloknee” on social media, went to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and held up a printed picture from the film over the actual setting of the scene. This process is known as superimposition. Read ahead to see some of the best picture from Moloney’s collection called FILMography, and stick around to the end to see how creative he’s been able to get with his spectacular superimpositions…
Ghostbusters was filmed on location in New York City, which is as big a part of the picture as anything else. The film is about a group of everyday men, three of which are former parapsychology professors, who end up starting a ghost removal service. Some of the iconic settings utilized across NYC were Central Park’s Tavern on the Green, the New York Public Library, Columbia University, and Lincoln Center, where Bill Murray is seen above. He’s just had a flirtatious interaction with Sigourney Weaver’s Dana Barrett, who eventually becomes a big part of the plot when she’s possessed by the film’s villain…
Bill Murray was the stand out star of the movie, which came out during the peak of his comedy career. He would eventually transition into more dramatic roles, but Ghostbusters shows him in his prime. While it spawned a sequel, as well as plenty of imitators, nothing has been able to come close to the magic of the original. With deadpan humor, impressive effects, and genuinely scary moments, it’s still considered one of the best comedy-horror films ever. One of the most memorable moments is the entrance of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight is widely considered to be the greatest super hero film of all time, one that transcends the genre in a way that has elevated many that have followed. Unlike a lot of movies that are part of a bigger series, The Dark Knight Trilogy is highly regarded as well. Above are a few of Moloney’s best Batman superimpositions, some of which are from New York City, while others were shot in Chicago. Both cities were utilized and combined to created the biggest cinematic version of Gotham ever.
The photo on the far left shows Tom Hardy’s Bane, the main villain from The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy. The middle shot is of Heath Ledger’s Joker, maybe the best villain ever portrayed in a movie. This scene was filmed in Chicago, which blends seamlessly with the series’ other locations. Ledger would go on to win a posthumous Oscar for his portrayal. The image on the right is another of Hardy’s Bane, this time fighting with Christian Bale’s Batman on Wall Street in NYC’s financial district.
While Batman is DC’s premier super hero, The Avengers contain some of Marvel’s most popular. Above are four of the film’s protagonists, Chris Evans’ Captain America, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye. This shot, from the movie’s final battle, was captured in New York City outside Grand Central Station, also known as Grand Central Terminal. The series has also been shot in Atlanta, which will be seen later. But first…
The Avenger’s are certainly Marvel icons, but Spider-Man is arguably the most popular super hero ever. This explains why there have been so many versions of the character portrayed on the big screen. Above is a shot of NYC’s Times Square from the Andrew Garfield-led The Amazing Spider-Man 2, easily the most criticized of all the hero’s movies. While Batman and Superman reside in the fictional cities Gotham and Metropolis, Spider-Man is from New York City.
The Incredible Hulk
Before Mark Ruffalo’s role as The Hulk in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the character was portrayed by two other actors, Eric Bana and Edward Norton, whose version is seen above. The scene was filmed on Yonge Street in Toronto, Canada, which was made to look like NYC. While all the previously seen super heroes have been portrayed by real actors, this is the first shot in this article where the characters are created entirely using CGI.
Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas is considered by many to be the most entertaining movie ever. It tells the real-life story of Henry Hill, a man who, over the course of his life, became an integral part of the Italian-American crime syndicate, also known as the mob. The image above was taken from one of the film’s most iconic shots, technically referred to as a “long take,” where the camera doesn’t cut for an extended period of time.
Another one of cinema’s greatest living directors is Quentin Tarantino, the man behind Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained, whose Kill Bill films see him at his most experimental and extreme. The protagonist, Uma Thurman’s The Bride, is captured above outside of one of the villain’s homes in Los Angeles, California. What follows her entrance is one of the movie’s most memorable fight scenes, seeing Thurman and Vivica A. Fox’s Vernita Green showcasing their amazingly choreographed moves.
Christian Bale, whose method acting has earned him quite the reputation in the movie industry, has played an incredibly diverse range of characters, including the previously seen Batman. Above is a still from David O. Russell’s America Hustle, which stars Bale as an overweight conman, and yes, he actually put on all those pounds to portray the East Coast character. The film was shot on location in New York City and New Jersey.
In this iconic shot from Rocky, Sylvester Stallone is seen at his most triumphant. The 72 stone steps before the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, have become known as the “Rocky Steps” for obvious reasons. The sight also has a bronze Rocky statue, which was briefly situated at the top of the steps for the filming of Rocky III. It is now located at the bottom right of the steps.
This article has featured some of the best films of all time, including those from the often-criticized super hero genre, but there’s also room for one of the greatest bad movies ever. Sharknado is a ridiculous made-for-TV disaster/comedy about a waterspout that lifts sharks out of the ocean and deposits them in Los Angeles. The shot above is from one of the sequels, The Last Sharknado, which changes the setting to New York City.
Before modern actors like Tom Cruise established a reputation for doing all their own stunts, there was Buster Keaton, the original death-defying movie star. He was an American actor, comedian, director, producer, screenwriter, and stunt performer, best known for his silent films. The image above is from 1928’s The Cameraman, which was filmed in Manhattan. The movie is about a man who tries to become a motion picture cameraman to be close to the object of his desire.
The Royal Tenenbaums
Wes Anderson is one of most idiosyncratic filmmakers in cinema history, with his defined styles running throughout all of his movies. The picture above shows The Royal Tenenbaums’ Gene Hackman, in one of his final roles, walking through Harlem to the character’s home in which much of the movie takes place. The quirky story shows a group of eccentric members of a dysfunctional family reluctantly gathering under the same roof for various reasons.
The Talented Mr. Ripley
The Talented Mr. Ripley was one of the movies that established Matt Damon as a genuinely talented actor. It was filmed all over Italy, which supplied the movie with gorgeous backgrounds and settings. This shot was taken in front of the medieval Aragonese Castle, which is next to one of the Phlegraean Islands at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples. The castle stands on a volcanic rocky islet that connects to the larger island of Ischia.
Good Will Hunting
Another amazing Matt Damon movie is Good Will Hunting. He not only starred in this award-winning film, but also wrote the script that won the Oscar for best screenplay. It takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, but was actually filmed in Toronto, Canada. The image above, shot at a local bar, is from one of the movie’s most iconic scenes, in which Damon delivers the classic line, “How do you like them apples?”
Tom Hanks is one of the most decorated and beloved actors of all time, and his role in Forrest Gump certainly played a big part in his incredible career. It was filmed in a variety of locations to portray it’s worldwide story, with the above image coming from a beautiful park in Savannah, Georgia. In this scene, which plays throughout the movie, he narrates the events of the film to strangers sitting with him on a bench.
Men In Black
Men In Black is a sci-fi/comedy classic, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as unlikely partners working for a secret organization the polices alien life on earth. The picture above is this article’s second shot to come from Grand Central Terminal, also known as Grand Central Station, and the first from inside the iconic location. It’s actually from the movie’s sequel, which, unfortunately, did not live up to the quality of the original.
I Am Legend
Another awesome Will Smith action movie is I Am Legend, which made New York City, one of the busiest and most populated places in the world, look like a barren wasteland following an extinction-level event. Interestingly enough, it was also filmed at Grand Central, but outside this time. The movie, which came out in 2007, was based on a novel of the same name, and shows Smith’s characters desperately looking for a cure to save humanity.
There are very few movie stars as iconic as Marilyn Monroe, and even fewer shots that are as memorable as this one from The Seven Year Itch. The starlet, wearing a white dress created by costume designer William Travilla, is seen standing above a subway grating. The Seven Year Itch is a 1955 American romantic comedy film, co-written and directed by Billy Wilder, based on a three-act play with the same name by George Axelrod.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
John Hughes was the writer and director behind the 80s teen classics Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, seen above. Like some of the previous stills, it was filmed in Chicago, Illinois. This iconic scene, from inside the Art Institute of Chicago, shows Cameron standing in front of the famous painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” by Georges Seurat.
Keanu Reeves is an action icon, and like some of the other actors in this article, he’s known for doing a lot of his own stunts. In Speed, he plays a cop who has to stop a terrorist from blowing up a bus with a bomb that will explode if doesn’t drive fast enough. This is made even more difficult by the fact that it’s speeding through congested Los Angeles. The image above is from the subways below.
Donald Glover’s hit television show Atlanta is the first TV series featured here, with more to come. Shot on location in Georgia’s capital city, it follows his character as he and his friends make their way through the local rap scene. This is appropriate considering Childish Gambino is Glover’s real-life rap alter ego. It’s won multiple Emmy’s and garnered a lot of critical acclaim, and after two successful seasons, shows no signs of slowing down.
Anthony Bourdain was an American celebrity chef, author, and travel documentarian who starred in television shows focusing on the exploration of international culture, cuisine, and the human condition. His series included No Reservations, The Taste, Parts Unknown and The Layover, seen above. He was filming for the Travel Channel show at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack, which boasts world famous barbecue and blues. Many of the places Bourdain visited became super popular after their appearance on his programs.
The Wonder Years
Coming-of-age television shows have a way of becoming an important part of viewers’ lives, taking them on a relatable journey throughout a variety of the characters’ most important experiences over many years. A series that absolutely did this in the late 80s and early 90s was The Wonder Years, a dramedy created by Neal Marlens and Carol Black starring Fred Savage. It was filmed in Los Angeles, California, where the family’s house still stands today.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is a very different type of show than the last few, and like the aforementioned I Am Legend, had to turn a busy urban landscape into an apocalyptic wasteland. The zombie series is shot in Atlanta, Georgia, with the above scene actually taking place inside its major metropolitan area. It follows Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes, and a crew of survivors, after he wakes up from a coma to learn the world is in ruins.
Back To The Future
After looking at some awesome television superimpositions, it’s time to go back to the movies with Back To The Future. This iconic film, starring Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, is considered perfect, from the story to the casting and everything in-between. They filmed all over Los Angeles, and while the characters used the Delorean to travel back in time, the crew was responsible for finding vintage locations, or transforming others themselves.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has a similar vibe as the last entry, with a young cast and impossible plot that’s well balanced with great performances, effects, and humor as well as heart. The scene above, featuring Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, was filmed in the interestingly named neighborhood of Cabbagetown in Toronto. Unlike a lot of others movies that are shot there and made to look like another place, the story was actually set in Canada.
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure
Pee Wee’s Big Adventure follows Paul Reubens’ eccentric man-child Pee-Wee Herman across the United States on an obsessive search for his beloved bike that was stolen from him in broad daylight by his nemesis Francis Buxton, a fellow man-child and neighborhood rich “kid.” It was mostly shot all over California, as well as Texas, specifically San Antonio, where the above shot was capture in front of The Alamo, which is actually called The Alamo Mission.
Woody Allen has used New York City in many of his most memorable films. It’s as important as any other element, including the writing, the actors and the direction. The two images above are from the appropriately-titled Manhattan, on the left, and arguably his best ever, Annie Hall, on the right. Diane Keaton stars with him in both movies. Most of the superimpositions in this article were captured in NYC, but few are as iconic as these.
Of all the filming locations in New York City, Times Square is probably the most popular, and simultaneously, the most difficult to execute. Vanilla Sky is another movie that has a scene where some of the busiest parts of NYC are made to look vacant. In the shot above, Tom Cruise’s David Aames, a self-indulgent and vain publishing magnate, is in the middle of a psychological journey, following a tragic accident, that involves lucid dreaming.
Another classic New York film is 1969’s Midnight Cowboy, based on the 1965 novel of the same name. It tells the story of a naive hustler, played by Jon Voight, who travels from Texas to New York City to seek personal fortune but, in the process, finds himself a new friend, played by Dustin Hoffman. The movie won three of arguably the most important Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay.
Catch Me If You Can
This article wouldn’t be complete without Steven Spielberg and Leonardo DiCaprio, who worked together on Catch Me If You Can with the aforementioned Tom Hanks. It tells the true story of legendary conman Frank Abagnale Jr. who, before his 19th birthday, successfully forged millions of dollars’ worth of checks while posing as a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a legal prosecutor. It was shot in California, Canada, and New York City.
The Ed Sullivan Theater
While this shot is from the FX show Louie, the subject is one of the most iconic buildings in Manhattan. The Ed Sullivan Theater has been used as a venue for live and taped CBS broadcasts since 1936. It’s been the home of The Ed Sullivan Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, seen above, and now The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It has been designated a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places.
Will Ferrell is quite possibly the most popular comic actor of his generation. One of his best roles was in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which was so successful it spawned a sequel. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was filmed in more locations than the original, which took place in California. The image above is from NYC, with the famous Radio City Music Hall in the background.
Another beloved Will Ferrell comedy, that was also filmed in New York City, is the Christmas classic Elf. He plays a man who was raised as an elf at the North Pole on an adventure in NYC. The fun scene seen above, which shows his character picking off child bullies in a snowball fight, was shot in Central Park. This is a very popular location for movies and television shows.
Central Park was also featured in Ghost Town, one of the few films starring Ricky Gervais, who is best known for his work in radio and on television. He created, wrote, directed and starred in the original The Office, as well as HBO’s Extras. It’s appropriate that this entry is a TV show, as the final superimpositions of this article will also be from the small screen. But there’s a twist…
Christopher Moloney, the man behind these awesome images, didn’t stop with just human subjects, or even CGI characters. He’s also done some superimpositions with cartoons, like the above picture from Fox’s Futurama, which recreated Central Park. Bender Bending Rodríguez is the series’ anti-hero, voiced by John DiMaggio, who is also occasionally portrayed as possessing a sympathetic side.
Moloney has also experimented with puppet superimpositions, and there aren’t many puppets more famous or beloved than the characters from Sesame Street. This is an educational children’s show that combines live action, sketch comedy, animation and puppetry. In another shot from Central Park, Bert and Ernie are seen at the famous restaurant Tavern on the Green.
In this article’s final image from Central Park, the most famous cartoon of all time is seen on a beautiful bridge. Mickey Mouse is the mascot of The Walt Disney Company. He was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at the Walt Disney Studios in 1928. This is an early drawing, but he’s typically seen wearing red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves.
Family Guy, created by and starring Seth MacFarlane, has a narrative style that utilizes random cutaways that allow every episode to have countless settings. The characters above are seen in front of Trevi Fountain, which is the largest Baroque fountain in the city of Rome, Italy. They definitely did a good job of recreating the famous structure.