Swan City meets the big screen: Movies filmed in and around Lakeland

Our town has become a regular star on the silver screen — how many of these movies have you seen that were filmed on location in Lakeland?

Screen Shot 2021-04-22 at 11.54.54 AM

The Southgate Shopping Center is a frequent film location for moviemakers.

Screenshot via YouTube

Swan City and our nearby cities have served as the backdrop for several notable movies over the years. We rounded up a few of our favorites to give you the behind-the-scenes scoop. Let’s roll the film.

Edward Scissorhands” (1990)
Eccentric director Tim Burton used Lakeland as a setting for this cult classic. Eagle-eyed viewers can spot the Southgate Shopping Center arch in several scenes.

My Girl” (1991)
You might recognize the Bartow home used as a set of this beloved movie featuring Macaulay Culkin, Dan Aykroyd, and Jamie Lee Curtis. Today, it’s being renovated to become Hope House, a nonprofit for new mothers.

Mr. Baseball” (1992)
This comedy was partially filmed at Publix Field at Joker Marchant Stadium. The film features Hollywood icon Tom Selleck, who plays a veteran player traded to a team in Japan. Another baseball movie, “Long Gone,” was also shot in Lakeland.

A graphic showing actor Bryan Cranston talking to a man on the left and a film set at a drive-in movie in Lakeland on the right

Award-winning actor Bryan Cranston filmed in several spots around Lakeland, including the Silver Moon.

The One and Only Ivan” (2020)
Stars like Angelina Jolie and Danny Devito lend their voice talents to characters in this Disney movie, but it was actor Bryan Cranston who filmed his scenes in Swan City. The studio shot on location at the Southgate Shopping Center and the Silver Moon Drive-In, and the production company set up a staging area at Southwest Middle School.

The Waterboy” (1998)
Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, and Henry Winkler filmed in various locations throughout the city. The “medulla oblongata” scene was shot in Edge Hall at Florida Southern College and used students as extras in the background.

China Moon” (1994)
Ed Harris leads this crime thriller as a detective — don’t worry, no spoilers here. It was shot on location in both Lakeland and Bartow.

unnamed (12)

Still from “The People Who Live Here”

Photo via Collection Media

The People Who Live There” (2021)
Learn Lakeland’s history through the stories of its historic homes and their owners. Connor O’Brien and Campbell Rice of The Collection Media and Paige + Chase Wagner created this documentary with interviews of Lakelanders like Mayor Bill Mutz.

At the End of the Day” (2018)
Local filmmaker Kevin O’Brien released this full-length film, which captured several notable spots in Swan City. It was featured at the 29th Annual Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

Endure” (2010)
Lakelander Joe O’Brien (father of aforementioned Connor O’Brien) wrote and directed this thriller in which a detective must track down a missing woman in Central Florida. Judd Nelson filmed scenes on location in and around Lakeland.


Shaesta Waiz is one of the aviators featured in “Fly Like a Girl.”

Image via Indie Atlantic Films

Fly Like a Girl” (2019)
This documentary about women in aviation was filmed in Lakeland and produced by local award-winning production company, Indie Atlantic Films. It even received a nod from Forbes, along with a Q+A with the film’s director.

Grace is Gone” (2007)
Prior to its closing in 2009, Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven served as a location for this drama starring John Cusack. It also served as the backdrop for several more films, including the 1953 musical “Easy to Love” starring Esther Williams.

Shakma” (1990)
Horror movie fans may have seen this flick featuring a baboon on a rampage. Lakeland served as a film location, and you can see the downtown Marble Arcade in the opening shots.

Bonus: An episode of “SeaQuest 2032” was filmed at Lakeland locations like Florida Southern College + Munn Park. Music superstar Prince also filmed the music video for “Little Red Corvette” at the former Lakeland Civic Center — and who can forget MC Hammer’s KFC commercial filmed downtown?

If you have any memories of these film shoots taking place across Lakeland, we’d reel-y love to hear them. Send us a message and we may share it in our future content.

More from LALtoday