There must be something special about filming in Memphis! There have been many motion pictures filmed right here, and a notably high number of those received major awards.
Here’s a list of 10 of the best films, their accolades, and places you can relive scenes from the movies during your visit to Memphis.
If you're interested in travel movies be sure to check out The 9 Best Travel Movies of 2019.
Hustle and Flow
This movie about a lovable pimp-turned-rapper was written, set, and filmed in Memphis. The film’s writer and director, Craig Brewer, is a Memphis native who also filmed his indie film The Poor & Hungry in the Bluff City. Terrence Howard was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his role as DJay. Hustle & Flow’s feature song, “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” was written by Memphis-based hip-hop group Three 6 Mafia and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
Walk the Line
This 2005 flick features an all-star cast, including Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, and Memphis native Gennifer Goodwin. Walk The Line was nominated for five Academy Awards, including a win for Witherspoon as Best Actress.
It tells the story of Johnny Cash and was made right here in Memphis, including scenes filmed at Sun Studio, The Orpheum, Bozo’s Hot Pit Barbecue in nearby Covington, and the South Main Neighborhood. The Pipkin Building at the Memphis Fairgrounds was used as the iconic Folsom Prison in the film.
This 1993 southern legal thriller helped to make a name for John Grisham and includes some very well shot scenes of Memphis, including The Shrine Building (named as the Peabody in the movie), Riverside Drive, and some residential areas. The Firm received two Oscar nominations, for Best Supporting Actress (Holly Hunter) and Best Musical Score.
This judicial drama was another winner for John Grisham and another film credit for Memphis. Scenes take place at Westy’s in the Pinch District, the ballroom of the Peabody Hotel, the Butcher Shoppe steakhouse, and The Arcade Restaurant, among several other locations.
This Tom Hanks film, released in 2000, took place primarily on a deserted island. But before and after his island adventure, Hanks' character lived and worked right here in Memphis. FedEx allowed filming at its international hub near Memphis International Airport in Memphis.
This John Grisham legal thriller about a boy, his lawyer, and the Mafia was set and filmed in Memphis. It stars Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones and was released in 1994. The Peabody Hotel’s Chez Philippe restaurant is featured in one scene, as well as other scenes at The Arcade Restaurant and more.
This 2003 movie, about a fatal accident that brings three unlikely people together, was shot (in part) in Memphis. It stars Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, and Benicio Del Toro. While Memphis is not mentioned in the film, locals will recognize the Central Gardens Neighborhood and Earnestine & Hazel’s.
Great Balls of Fire
This 1989 biopic about Jerry Lee Lewis took place in and was made primarily in Memphis, as well as Marion, Arkansas. It stars big names like Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, and Dennis Quaid. They filmed at Graceland, Sun Studios, and in the alley near Rendezvous barbecue restaurant. See if you can spot Jerry's Sno-Cones in the movie, too.
Forty Shades of Blue
This 2005 drama about a steamy and dangerous love triangle was set and filmed entirely in Memphis. It was directed by Memphis native Ira Sachs and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
The People vs. Larry Flynt
This 1996 film depicting the rise of Hustler founder, Larry Flynt was partially shot in Memphis. It was nominated for two Academy Awards and multiple Golden Globes; it won Golden Globes for Best Director and Best Screenplay.
Updated by Holly Whitfield February 2017