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Movies Filmed in Michigan, Part III: 1990-95

Die Hard 2
20th Century Fox

Due in part to the American economic recession of 1991, the early 1990s saw a considerable dip in box-office revenues. But by 1993 ticket sales picked up again and continued to increase. Throughout the balance of the decade ticket sales were up - mostly at multi-screen cineplex complexes (which multiplied from almost 23,000 in 1990 to 35,600 in the year 2000) throughout the country. The decade saw the average ticket price for a movie climb from about $4.25 at the start of the decade to around $5 by its close.

During the 1990s it was believed that expensive, high-budget films with expensive special effects equated with quality. With this increased pressures were exerted on studio execs to deliver big hits while making ends meet during the decade. However prevailing costs did not make this easy. Higher costs for everything from film/celebrity star salaries, agency fees, spiraling production costs, promotional campaigns, expensive price tags for new high-tech and digital special-effects and CGI (computer generated images), costly market research and testing, threats of actor and writer strikes, and big-budget marketing contributed to the inflated, excessive spending for inferior products in the Hollywood film industry. As these costs increased, true character development, interesting characters, credible plots, and intelligent story-telling often suffered in the process.

Although the average film budget was almost $53 million at the beginning of the decade, by 1998 many films cost over $100 million to produce, and some of the most expensive blockbusters even more. Despite costs, these weren’t always box offices smashes. To gauge the success of a release there existed an imbalanced emphasis on the opening weekend, with incessant reports of weekly box-office returns, and puffed-up reviews and critics' ratings. If a release did not return its budget within the first week, it was normally deemed a wash if not a complete flop.

The 1990s gave rise to the indie film movement. During this decade the indie-distributed film movement was proving that it could compete, both commercially as well as critically with Hollywood's costly output. It eschewed much of the problems experienced by the biggest studios, and instead produced films with artistic, edgy, or 'serious' social issues or themes, without big dollar Hollywood stars and the Hollywood size headaches which normally accompanied.

The Michigan Film Office, established in 1979 to assist and attract incoming production companies was successful in promoting the state as an alternative to southern California’s sunny climes and Hollywood headaches during the '90s. It lured independent producers to the state. Providing services, such as location photographs and assistance including help with location procurement and clearance; liaison with local/county/state government; contacts with business, institutions, neighborhoods, and other groups; and production information, it landed several dozen projects which were filmed (at least in part) in Michigan. Michigan was becoming seen as an attractive alternative to the golden California area for the film industry.

Another emerging trend of the late 80s and 90s was that many of the films that were produced , to assuage the tremendous appetite for new products demanded by cable stations, video rental stores, the local megaplexes, digital satellite services, foreign markets, and the Internet, the window of time between a film's theatrical opening and availability for cable TV or home viewing shrunk with (some estimates say 40%) going directly to video (laserdisc or DVD) or cable with no cinematic theatrical release at all. So, many of these movies made in the 1990s, were without theatrical release.

Here are the movies which were produced principally here in Michigan during the 1990s. (For other films possibly missed by this list, refer to the Michigan Film Office list.)

Die Hard 2
Die Hard 2 20th Century Fox

Die Hard 2

In this second in the Die Hard film series, Die Hard 2 Lt. John McLane (played by Bruce Willis) officer of the NYPD and hero of the Nakatomi Hostage Crisis, (see the original Die Hard) attempts to avert disaster as rogue military officials seize control of Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.

Directed by Renny Harlin, this second installment of this franchise co-stars Bonnie Bedelia (reprising her role as Holly McClane), Reginald VelJohnson, returning briefly in his role as Sgt. Al Powell (from the first film) William Atherton (reprising his role as Richard "Dick" Thornburg), William Sadler, Art Evans, Franco Nero, Dennis Franz, Fred Thompson, John Amos.

Although Die Hard 2 shot largely in Colorado, Denver's Stapleton Airport, at Universal Studios and the lot at 20th Century Fox in Los Angeles. Kincheloe Air Force Base, Kincheloe, Michigan, was used for filming. Other scenes were shot at the Alpena Airport in Northern Michigan, a location chosen in part because of its propensity for snowfall. (Here’s a surprise, particularly after this past year’s winter 2014) Due to a lack of snow before and during filming artificial snow had to be used

Zebrahead movie poster
Zebrahead movie poster Triumph Releasing Corporation

Zebrahead movie poster

Produced by Oliver Stone, directed by Anthony Drazan and starring Michael Rapaport (in his first film role) and N'Bushe Wright. Zebrahead is a 1992 drama film set in Detroit. The film also stars Kevin Corrigan, Ray Sharkey, Lois Bendler.

The film is about an interracial romance between a white man and a black woman and the resulting tensions among the characters.

Set in Detroit, this production also shot in New York City.

Madonna: Truth or Dare
Madonna: Truth or Dare Miramax Films

Madonna: Truth or Dare

(Renamed In Bed with Madonna outside of North America) Madonna: Truth or Dare is a 1991 American documentary film chronicling the life of American singer-songwriter Madonna during her 1990 Blond Ambition World Tour.

Despite being generally well received by critics and successful at the box office, at that point becoming the highest-grossing documentary of all time with a worldwide gross of $29,012,935, this film was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Actress for Madonna as herself. It holds an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Detroit and Auburn Hills, Michigan, play very minor roles in this doc with locations which also include Houston, Texas, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, Los Angeles, California, Madrid, Spain, New York City, New York, Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, France and Rome, Lazio, Italy.

For the original trailer for this Madonna documentary.

On the Lonely
On the Lonely 20th Century Fox

On the Lonely

Does a film that shoots in Niles, Michigan a scene which only appears in the closing, but otherwise shoots in Chicago, qualify as filmed in Michigan? Even if it does include the late John Candy? Let’s proceed to the next film.

Here is the trailer for this Candy film.

Hoffa 20th Century Fox


A 1992 French-American biographical film directed by Danny DeVito and written by David Mamet, Hoffa is based on the life of Teamsters Union leader Jimmy Hoffa.

Hoffa stars Jack Nicholson as Hoffa, and DeVito as Hoffa's fictional longtime friend Robert "Bobby" Ciaro, an amalgamation of several Hoffa associates over the years. The film also stars John C. Reilly, Robert Prosky, Kevin Anderson, Armand Assante, and J. T. Walsh.

Although it chronicles Hoffa's early years in Michigan to his leadership in New York City and Washington, D.C. and his death in a Detroit suburb, almost all of the film was shot in and around Pittsburgh with the city's landmarks (such as Gateway Center in the Idlewild Airport police pullover scene, and the Mellon Institute depicting government buildings) serving as backdrops for various locales.

The diner scenes were shot at an actual diner that was built then destroyed on Rt. 72 in Hampshire, Illinois. In real life, the place where Hoffa was last seen, the Machus Red Fox, was an upscale restaurant in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, not a roadhouse or diner.

The original trailer for this Danny Devito film.

Crossing the Bridge
Crossing the Bridge Buena Vista Pictures

Crossing the Bridge

A 1992 American drama, created by Mike Binder and loosely based on Binders' friends, starring Josh Charles (Mort Golden), Stephen Baldwin (Danny Morgan) and Jason Gedrick (Tim Reese) during the late 1970s in the Detroit/Birmingham, MI area who embark on a dangerous drug-smuggling venture.

Much of the plot concerns the three friends driving into Canada as couriers in a drug deal. When returning to the United States at the Ambassador Bridge crossing between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, the protagonists face possible capture by authorities. This film was also shot in Minnesota.

Released September 11, 1992 Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures this movie had a Box office gross of $479,676

For an original trailer and to download this movie.

Aspen Extreme
Aspen Extreme Buena Vista Pictures

Aspen Extreme

A 1993 film about two ski buddies, TJ Burke (Paul Gross) and Dexter Rutecki (Peter Berg), who move from Brighton, Michigan to Aspen, Colorado to seek a better life. as ski instructors, are confronted by women, drugs, and job troubles that threaten to destroy their friendship. The pair train for the upcoming Powder 8 ski competition. Along the way, TJ tries to realize his dream of becoming a professional writer,

The supporting cast includes Finola Hughes, Teri Polo, William Russ, and Trevor Eve. The cover of the US video release quotes the Seattle Times as referring to the film as "Top Gun on the Ski Slopes."

Written and directed by Patrick Hasburgh, produced by Fred T. Gallo and Leonard Goldberg, a Hollywood Pictures production, Aspen Extreme was released January 22, 1993 (US), distributed by Buena Vista Pictures with a box office of $8,041,049.

True Romance
True Romance Warner Bros. Pictures

True Romance

True Romance, a 1993 American romantic crime film directed by Tony Scott and written by Quentin Tarantino, the film stars Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette with a supporting cast featuring Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Walken.

A breakthrough film for Tarantino, released after Reservoir Dogs, True Romance was his first screenplay for a major motion picture. Tarantino contends that it is his most autobiographical film to date. Initially hoping to serve as the film's director,
he ended up losing interest in directing and sold the script.

Although a critical success, It holds a "fresh" rating of 92% based on 47 reviews collected from notable publications by review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, with the consensus, "Fueled by Quentin Tarantino's savvy screenplay and a gallery of oddball performances, Tony Scott's True Romance is a funny and violent action jaunt in the best sense"

True Romance was a box office failure. It was given a domestic release and earned $12,281,551, on an estimated $13 million budget. Despite this, the film has developed a cult following over the years

Although shot largely in California, it is credited as being shot (at least) in part in Detroit.

Renaissance Man
Renaissance Man Theatrical poster Copyright © 1994 by Touchstone Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Renaissance Man

Renaissance Man (known In Australia under the title of Army Intelligence.) is a 1994 American comedy film directed by Penny Marshall . Starring Danny DeVito, Gregory Hines, James Remar, and Cliff Robertson.

Released on November 20, 1993 on a budget of $40,000,000 (estimated), Renaissance Man received largely negative reviews. It realized a box office gross of $24,332,324 (USA).

Lost on the Bohemian Road
Lost on the Bohemian Road Code Blue Pictures/Bohemian Productioctions

Lost on the Bohemian Road

"Not your ordinary boy meets girl meets girl love story"

Lost on the Bohemian Road is a sensual, yet comical love triangle between irresponsible, drug-loving photographer Ian, his sharp-tongued bisexual (ex) girlfriend Amy, and 16-year-old innocent Heather.

Written and Directed by Sean Hoessli, starring Eric Zudak, Kate Peckham, and Terri Heffron Featuring Music by Mustard Plug, Karmic, Rollerball, and Spurge Produced, Lost on the Bohemian Road is an independent film, produced by Code Blue Pictures


Judicial Consent
Judicial Consent Prelude Pictures, Rysher Entertainment, WarnerVision Films

Judicial Consent

“There is passion in secrets, and power in disclosure.” Judicial Consent (Also known as My Love, Your Honor) A thriller written and directed by William Bindley, starring Bonnie Bedelia (as Judge Gwen Warwick) becomes involved in the murder trial she has been assigned. Her marriage is on the rocks and the murder victim is an old friend, who rumor has it, had an affair with her.

Judicial Consent stars Billy Wirth (as Martin), Will Patton (as Alan Warwick), Lisa Blount (as D.A. Theresa Lewis), Dabney Coleman (as Charles Mayron), Kevin McCarthy (as Judge Pollan)Michael Greene (as Lt. Kartes), among others

It was filmed in Detroit.

Cobb Warner Brothers


How can the MFO claim a film not shot in Michigan as made in Michigan? Cobb is a 1994 biopic starring Tommy Lee Jones as the famed baseball player Ty Cobb, first baseball player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Written and directed by Ron Shelton, it was based on a book by Al Stump.

Why does it appear on the Michigan Film Office list of made in Michigan movies, is any one’s guess. Much of the Cobb location filming was done in Northern Nevada. The hotel check-in was at the Morris Hotel on Fourth Street in Reno. Casino, outdoor and entry shots were done outside Cactus Jack's Hotel and Casino in Carson City and outside the then-closed, now-reopened (2007) Doppelganger's Bar in Carson City.

Mosquito Helmdale


Now here is a movie made entirely in Michigan.

“Millions Of Years Of Evolution Have Just Become Mankind's Worst Nightmare. “

Directed by Gary Jones, assistant director and director, who has given us such winners as Army of Darkness (1992), Mosquito (1995) and Boogeyman 3 (2008), offered by this 1995 science fiction film homage to the classic 50's horror genre. About mosquitoes that become mutated when a spaceship crash lands in a swamp and the mosquitoes grow to enormous size and attack campers in a remote northern wilderness, Mosquito stars Gunnar Hansen who played the character Leatherface in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Ron Asheton, lead guitarist for the proto-punk rock band The Stooges.

The film's classic b-movie dialogue, special effects that range from great to really bad, and eye popping gore have earned it a cult following. After a long run on the USA Network, Mosquito was picked up by the channel SyFy.

Mosquito was filmed entirely in Michigan. Produced by Acme Films Ltd., Antibes Inc., Excalibur Motion Pictures on an estimated budget of $200,000, it had a box office return of $986,314.

It was released to VHS and Laserdisc before the end of 1995, and DVD in 1999. It had a Special Edition DVD release in 2005, yet copies are still rare.

Flirting With Disaster
Flirting With Disaster New Line Cinema

Flirting With Disaster

“A comedy about sex, love, family, and other accidents waiting to happen. “

An American comedy film written and directed by David O. Russell about a young father's search for his biological parents, Flirting with Disaster stars Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette, Téa Leoni, Mary Tyler Moore, George Segal, Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin.

Flirting with disaster enjoyed spot filming in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Rotten Tomatoes rated the film as "Certified Fresh" giving it an 86% based on 51 reviews

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