With 'The Hateful Eight' making its 70 millimeter release, we started thinking about other movies filmed in Colorado. Director Quentin Tarantino's cameras rolled in and around Telluride for the film starring Samuel L. Jackson and a passel of other Hollywood stars. But the story was actually set post-Civil War Wyoming.
So we took a look at 50 of the highest grossing movies filmed in Colorado and tried to determine whether or not the plot of the movie actually involved the Centennial State. We plotted what we found in the interactive below.
The movies filmed in Colorado but set somewhere else are to the left. The higher up the chart they appear, the more money they grossed (Furious 7, for example). The movies filmed here and set here show up at the right.
Roll your cursor over the dots and discover the results for yourself. Scroll down beyond the interactive to read our plot notes and our methodology.
Plot notes: There is subjectivity to evaluating whether or not a movie is set in Colorado. What if it's mostly set in Los Angeles, but the characters also go abroad? How far away from Colorado is it? (See: Furious 7 and Mr. And Mrs. Smith.) Here are my notes about where each movie is set.
|Title||Domestic Gross||Plot notes||Degree of Colorado Adjacency|
|The Unsinkable Molly Brown||$11,070,559.00||A fictionalized account of Denver's own Margaret Brown. Filmed partly in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.||4.2|
|About Schmidt||$65,005,217.00||Warren Schmidt (Nicholson again) takes a trip to Denver to visit his daughter. Parts of the movie were indeed filmed in Denver.||3.5|
|City Slickers||$116,014,390.00||Three professional guys (Billy Crystal, Jack Palance, Daniel Stern) travel to a dude ranch where they move cattle across the plains to Colorado. Some filming happened in Durango, Colorado.||3.2|
|Dumb & Dumber||$127,140,750.00||Lloyd and Harry (Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels) travel to Aspen, Colorado to return a suitcase full of money. Filmed in Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Fort Morgan, and the Stanley Hotel.||3|
|WarGames||$74,433,837.00||The computer behind the "Global Thermonuclear War" game that David (Matthew Broderick) plays is in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. And part of the movie was filmed there as well.||3|
|Cliffhanger||$84,049,211.00||A Sylvester Stallone action picture set in the Colorado Rockies. Some filming happened in Durango, Colorado.||2.8|
|The Prestige||$53,089,891.00||Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) spends time in Colorado learning the "Transported Man" trick. The Durango-Silverton train is part of the movie.||2.4|
|Blades of Glory||$118,245,842.00||Figure skaters Chazz (Will Ferrell) and Jimmy (John Heder) secure their spot in the World Winter Sports Games with a performance in Denver. Appropriately, the Pepsi Center was used for filming.||2|
|Under Siege 2: Dark Territory||$50,002,097.00||A Steven Seagal action film set on a train going from Denver to Los Angeles through the Rocky Mountains. Part of the filming took place in Glenwood Springs.||2|
|Identity Thief||$134,506,920.00||The movie begins when Denver man Sandy Patterson (Jason Bateman) buys identity theft protection over the phone. Parts of the film were shot in Denver.||1.7|
|Every Which Way But Loose||$104,268,727.00||After truck driver Philo Beddoe (Clint Eastwood) falls in love, he sets off for Denver, Colorado. Parts of the film were indeed shot in Denver, as well as Aurora and Georgetown.||1.6|
|Over the Top||$14,765,355.00||Lincoln Hawk (Sylvester Stallone) travels from Colorado to California in the movie. Filmed in Ouray.||1.8|
|National Lampoon's Vacation||$61,399,552||In the Griswold family (led by Chevy Chase) trip from Chicago to LA, the family stops in Colorado. Some filming happened in Durango, Alamosa, Boone, South Fork and Hesperus.||1.65|
|Imagine That||$16,123,323.00||Evan Danielson (Eddie Murphy) is competing for a big promotion at his Denver firm. Parts of the movie were indeed filmed in Denver.||1.4|
|Catch and Release||$15,432,542.00||Appears to be set in Boulder, but the setting is not made clear. However, it was definitely filmed in Boulder. With Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith.||0.9|
|Thelma & Louise||$45,361,000.00||Thelma and Louise (Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon) go for a life-changing vacation in the mountains… maybe Colorado? Parts of the movie were shot in Bedrock.||0.5|
|Starman||$28,680,432.00||Starman (Jeff Bridges) falls to Earth and travels from Wisconsin to Arizona (with Karen Allen's help). It's possible to cross through Colorado on such a trip. Some scenes were shot in Fruita, Colorado.||0.5|
|Nurse Betty||$25,170,054.00||Kind and considerate diner waitress Betty (Renee Zellweger) lives in Kansas City, Kansas. Her next stop is a bar in Arizona. It's possible to go through Colorado on such a trip. Some filming happened in Durango, Colorado.||0.5|
|Bite the Bullet||$11,000,000.00||Set in the West, but director Richard Brooks was said to be inspired by cross-country races sponsored by newspapers, including the Denver Post. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Antonio appears in at least one scene though.||0.5|
|Ladybugs||$14,796,494.00||Not clear where this Rodney Dangerfield picture was set, but it was filmed in Littleton and Denver.||0|
|Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid||$102,308,900.00||The adventures of Butch (Paul Newman) and The Kid (Robert Redford) spanned the West and beyond. Some filming happened in Durango, Colorado.||-0.5|
|How the West Was Won||$46,500,000.00||A John Ford classic set in the West. Some filming happened in Durango, Silverton, Montrose and La Junta.||-0.5|
|Around the World in Eighty Days||$42,000,000||Set around the world, including the West. Some filming happened in Durango, Colorado.||-0.5|
|Lightning Jack||$16,821,273.00||Paul Hogan western set in the West, filmed partly in Frisco County.||-0.5|
|The Frisco Kid||$12,000,000.00||A Gene Wilder movie set in the West, but part of the movie was filmed in Weld County.||-0.5|
|Continental Divide||$15,578,000.00||A hard-nosed Chicago journalist (John Belushi) profiles an eagle researcher in Wyoming. Parts of the movie were filmed in Custer County.||-1|
|In Cold Blood||$13,000,000.00||Most of the movie based on the Truman Capote novel of the same name is set in Kansas. But it was filmed partly at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in Fremont County.||-1.3|
|Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade||$195,705,225.00||This Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) installment opens in Monument Valley, Utah, in 1912. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Antonio appears in the film though.||-1.5|
|Cat Ballou||$20,666,667.00||Cat Ballou travels to Wolf City, Wyoming to visit her father. But the movie was partly filmed in Canon City.||-1.7|
|A Million Ways to Die in the West||$42,720,965.00||Main character Albert (Seth MacFarlane) lives in southern Arizona territory. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad in Antonio appears in at least one scene though.||-2|
|The Sons of Katie Elder||$13,333,333.00||Another Western it's set in Texas. Some filming happened in Durango, Colorado.||-2.1|
|Ice Castles (1978 version)||$18,000,000.00||The original 1978 version is set in Iowa, but the primary arena filming happened at Colorado Spring's Broadmoor Arena.||-2.15|
|Independence Day||$306,124,059.00||Part of the space alien war flick is set in Area 51, in Nevada, but filmed at Colorado Springs' Peterson Air Force Base.||-2.3|
|True Grit (1969 version)||$31,132,592.00||The John Wayne classic is set in Oklahoma, but uses Colorado's San Juan mountains for backdrop.||-2.5|
|Larger Than Life||$8,289,972||Set in San Diego, but filmed partly in Denver. Bill Murray befriends an elephant.||-2.68|
|The Adventures of the Wilderness Family||$28,819,175.00||Family moves from Los Angeles to the Pacific Northwest in the movie, but parts were shot in Gunnison National Forest in Colorado.||-2.7|
|Tall Tale||$8,236,432||The movie takes place in unspoiled Paradise Valley, which could refer to the Montana town. But it was filmed in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs.||-2.7|
|Mr. & Mrs. Smith||186,336,279||Set partly in Los Angeles, but some filming happened in Glenwood Springs. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie star in this espionage caper.||-2.75|
|Christmas Vacation||$71,319,546.00||The Griswolds (again led by Chevy Chase) in their Chicago home for Christmas. But some filming happened in Breckenridge.||-3|
|Everybody's All-American||$12,638,294||Dennis Quaid stars in a movie set in Louisiana, but some filming took place at the former Mile High Stadium.||-3.2|
|The Fan||$18,406,215.00||A baseball saga starring Robert De Niro, Wesley Snipes and Ellen Barkin, set in San Francisco, but filmed partly at Coors Field.||-3.3|
|For Love of the Game||$35,188,640.00||Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner) is a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers in the movie, yet parts of the movie were filmed in Aspen.||-3.5|
|Action Jackson||$20,257,000.00||Action Jackson (Carl Weathers) is a cop in Detroit, but parts of the film were shot in Denver.||-3.5|
|The Lone Ranger||$89,289,910.00||Some of the movie takes place in an unspecified part of the West, but named locations include Texas and San Francisco. Comanche Indians are part of the plot and their highest populations are in Oklahoma. Some filming occurred in Durango, Colorado.||-3.7|
|Die Hard 2||$117,323,878.00||The scene filmed in Colorado is actually set in Virginia, according to a movie script. A small church in Mead served as a filming location for this Bruce Willis vehicle. Also, the Stapleton Airport and Breckenridge.||-4.2|
|In the Line of Fire||$100,013,224.00||Frank Horrigan (Clint Eastwood) is a Secret Service agent whose work keeps him around Washington D.C., but parts of the movie were filmed in Denver's Civic Center Park.||-4.2|
|A Change of Seasons||$16,400,000.00||Set in Vermont, but some of the movie was filmed in Glenwood Springs. Shirley MacLaine, Anthony Hopkins, Bo Derek star.||-4.3|
|Furious 7||$351,032,910.00||The further adventures of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and crew: The film is set in London and Los Angeles, but parts of it were shot near Monarch ski area.||-4.5|
|White Fang 2: Myth of the White Wolf||$8,752,399||Set in Alaska, filmed partly in Aspen, Colorado.||-4.5|
|Sleeper||$18,344,729.00||Miles Monroe (Woody Allen) is sent 200 years into the future, but does the state of Colorado even exist then? Filming took place in a distinctively shaped house built on Genesee Mountain near Golden.||-5|
Methodology: The search began with IMBD's list of productions filmed in Colorado. From there, I eliminated television series, short films and documentaries. (Yeah, that means no Mork and Mindy or Bowling for Columbine in this list.) Locations were cross-referenced with the Colorado Film Office's timeline, in addition to local film commissions.
Then, I used data from The Numbers for how much money each movie made domestically. For maximum readability, I chose the top 50 grossing movies.
From there, a combination of sources was necessary to determine whether the movie was set in Colorado. Where possible, I used reviews from Roger Ebert or the New York Times to determine the setting. In some cases, I needed to read parts of the movie's script. And in others, it was necessary to cross-reference Wikipedia, IMBD, and Amazon descriptions to determine a setting.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story said that Stanley Kubrick's The Shining was filmed in Colorado. It was filmed in Oregon and Montana.