by Rowan Levy

Here is a look at seven of the best movies that were filmed in Puerto Rico. Some of the films mentioned may set their storylines in other countries, but all qualify because they were shot on location in PR.

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

The third movie in the Captain America trilogy – a component of the mega Avengers franchise – was filmed on numerous locations all around the world, including Germany, Iceland, and Atlanta, with most of the green screen sequences produced at Pinewood Studios. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr, and the rest of the Avengers also spent time in Puerto Rico, where some of the movie’s first scenes were shot in San Juan – although the movie depicts the location as Lagos, Nigeria. Civil War was an enormous success at the box office, grossing more than $1.1 billion worldwide to become the most commercially successful film of 2016.

Fast Five (2011)

The fifth instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise may set much of the storyline in Brazil, but many of the scenes were filmed in Puerto Rico, in particular in San Juan and Naranjito. Action-packed car chase sequences were shot at la Milla de Oro and Puente Teodoro Moscoso in Hato Rey, while the rooftop chase over the favelas was filmed in La Perla. Fast Five, another box office smash hit, introduced Dwayne Johnson’s Luke Hobbs, but the real stars of the movie are the cars. Among them is a 2010 Koenigsegg CCXR Edition – so valuable that correctly selecting the Puerto Rico lottery results (jackpot approx. $2.5m) would just about cover the cost to buy the supercar ($2.31m).

The Rum Diary (2011)

The first film on this list to set its storyline in Puerto Rico and to be filmed almost entirely on location (some scenes were shot in Hollywood and Mexico). The Rum Diary – an adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s 1998 novel – is set in the 1960s and gives viewers a glimpse into life on the island during an era of colonial architecture and before mass tourism. Much of the film is set around Old San Juan, with the beach scenes taking place at Vieques and Vega Baja. The film itself received mixed reviews but for stunning shots of Puerto Rico, it’s definitely worth a watch.

Bad Boys II (2003)

Eight years after the hugely successful first film, Will Smith and Martin Lawrence reunited for the sequel of this action-comedy, directed once again by Michael Bay. While the movie sets itself in Miami and Cuba, Puerto Rico was Bay’s location of choice for the Cuba scenes. Manati and Arecibo played host to many of the car chases, explosions, and shoot-outs that are synonymous with Bay’s movies. Shot on an enormous budget of $130 million, Bad Boys II grossed over $270 million worldwide.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

For the fourth movie of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Puerto Rico welcomed Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, and the rest of the cast and crew for a number of the film’s iconic scenes. Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow and Cruz’s Angelica are seen at the Castillo San Cristóbal in San Juan and the famous rock feature Cueva del Indio in Arecibo, as well as a scene that captures the stunning uninhabited island of Palominito off the coast of Fajardo. Like the rest of the Pirates movies, On Stranger Tides was a monster hit, taking in more than $1.046 billion at the global box office.

GoldenEye (1995)

The 17th James Bond movie and the first to star Pierce Brosnan (and undoubtedly the best of his four films as 007), GoldenEye’s most memorable scene was filmed at the Arecibo Observatory as Bond and Sean Bean’s baddie Alec Trevelyan battle it out in the giant telescope. The Arecibo Observatory has been a popular movie location, with 2010’s The Losers, Contact (2007), and 1997’s Species all filming scenes there. GoldenEye was both a commercial and critical hit, grossing over $350 million worldwide.

Amistad (1997)

Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on the real-life events aboard the La Amistad slave ship in 1839, Amistad was partly filmed in Puerto Rico, with El Morro citadel in San Juan used as a fort in Sierra Leonne where the slave trade took place in the movie. Despite struggling at the box office by taking just $44 million against its $36 million production costs, Amistad was recognised during award season with more than 30 nominations, including four at the Academy Awards.


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