Film on Kaua‘iKaua‘i
Although Hollywood filmmakers have been making movies on Kaua‘i for more than 75 years, recent big-budget films with A-list stars continue to catapult Hawai‘i into the spotlight. Three feature films—all scheduled for release in 2011—have been filmed here.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, is the fourth in Disney’s hit pirate series.
The Descendants, starring George Clooney, wrapped up work on Kaua‘i last spring. This movie features Kaua‘i playing itself instead of masquerading for another exotic location—as it usually does. Clooney plays a Honolulu attorney who is the descendant of a Hawaiian princess.
The recently released Soul Surfer, starring AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Quaid, Helen Hunt and Carrie Underwood showcases Kaua‘i and tells the story of beloved island surfer Bethany Hamilton. Hollywood has been using Kaua‘i as a back lot for feature movies since 1933. Blockbuster movies like Jurassic Park, Tropic Thunder, Raiders of the Lost Ark, South Pacific and Blue Hawaii were filmed here along with scores of documentaries and surf films. The draw is 552 square miles of uninterrupted beautyparceled out in landscapes that vary widely from one short distance to another, which allows producers the imagery, diversity and red-dust haze needed to transform the island into the backdrops that shape their stories.
In Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder, the island doubles for Vietnam. In Dustin Hoffman’s Outbreak, it mimicks Zaire. Danny Glover’s Flight of the Intruder finds Kaua‘i doubling for both Vietnam and the Philippines. In Jurassic Park, the island is meant to mirror an island in Costa Rica, and in Raiders of the Lost Ark, a South American jungle. Of course, in the all-time Kaua‘i favorite, South Pacific, the island represents an island called New Caledonia.
With the movies come the casting calls. Pirates attracted 1,000 hopefuls; and 200 extras were hired for The Descendants.
Some local tour companies have found a niche matching movies to their Kaua‘i locations. One such company is Hawaii Movie Tours, which goes “on location” to offer visitors the nature version of a Hollywood tour, while guides provide a running commentary on the stories behind the productions.