Film on Kaua’iKaua‘i
Although Hollywood FILMMAKERS have been MAKING MOVIES ON KAUA‘I for many years, recent big-budget films with A-list stars continue to catapult Hawai‘i into the spotlight. PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES, starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz, was filmed here, as was 2011’s THE DESCENDANTS, starring George Clooney, which earned an Oscar.
The family favorite, 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, when the film WHITE HEAT, directed by Lois Weber, was shot on the island.
The draw is 552 square miles of uninterrupted beauty parceled 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 Dustin Hoffman’s OUTBREAK, Kaua‘i mimics 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. Kaua‘i even played a role in the sci-fi blockbuster AVATAR.
Island residents often answer casting calls. PIRATES attracted 1,000 hopefuls, while 200 extras were hired for THE DESCENDANTS.
In the recent blockbuster, JURASSIC WORLD, audiences revisited Isla Nublar, located in Central America and Kaua‘i’s stunning scenery stood in for the fictional island. BLUE HAWAIIAN HELICOPTERS helped to capture the beauty of the island (and even made a cameo appearance!) for the movie. The company is the go-to choice for many movie productions (PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN—AT WORLD’S END, TROPIC THUNDER and more), so chances are you’ll see many familiar sights on one of its tours. In fact, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters’ Kauai ECO Adventure takes passengers high above Mana Waiapuna, also known as “Jurassic Park Falls,” Bali Hai Cliffs, Waimea Canyon and the Napali Coast, all settings found on the silver screen.
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, with guides providing a running commentary on the stories behind the productions. POLYNESIAN ADVENTURE TOURS also offers a KAUAI MOVIE ADVENTURE tour around the island. Visit polyadhawaiitours.com.