Movies are magical, they can transport you to a time, place, era, situation which you wouldn’t otherwise visit. Movies tell stories of love, of friendship, of war, of peace, of family and so much more. It really isn’t surprising that movies are so powerful that irrespective of how new technologies may threaten, film-making continues to flourish. Movies are not just about actors and directors but about the hundreds of people who work behind the scenes for days and months to bring alive a story worth sharing. If you too are enthralled by movies and want to know more about how they are made then you definitely should visit film studios. Film studios give more than a glimpse of how films are made, who are the technicians behind the scene, what are the props used to set up a particular environment and how everything comes together on screen.
Los Angeles also known as the entertainment capital of the world is where some of the best movies in the world are made. Home to Hollywood, a trip to LA is considered incomplete if you do not visit one or all of the famous film studios. If you are wondering how you can visit a film studio where the biggest of stars, the best of films are made, almost on a daily basis then you needn’t worry. Almost all Hollywood studios offer guided tours to the public, who get the chance of seeing the film-making world. From one-day, single-studio tours, to multi-day, many studio tours you can see it all, depending on your itinerary.
What a Film Studio Tour Offers
You may not be able to actually watch a film being made in entirety but if you are lucky you would definitely catch a glimpse of the process. When you are booking yourself for a films studio tour, you must know what to expect and what you shouldn’t.
Most movie studios open their doors to the public only on weekdays so if you are planning a weekend trip to LA then you are in for some disappointment. Contrary to popular belief films studios are not always busy. Most film studios are on a break during the end-of-year holidays. Film-making generally takes place between August and March with a break in between. Having said so there is no guarantee that the studios will be bustling with activity on the day you visit. If you are lucky, you may see a film star and watch an anticipated upcoming movie being made. However, if luck doesn’t favor, you may have to do with an almost empty film studio tour.
You can also expect to visit a mini-museum inside a film studio, as well as a gift shop. Most tours also include a visit to the prop warehouses, famous sets and so on.
5 Film Studios in LA Worth Visiting
1. Paramount Studios
One of the film studios that continue to be headquartered in Los Angeles since its inception, Paramount Studios is synonymous to some of the best films ever made in history. The studios were founded in 1912 and in it’s over 100 years of the legacy it has established some of the biggest stars of Hollywood. Hit blockbuster films such as “Transformers”, “Indiana Jones”, “Titanic” have been made under the Paramount Studios banner. Paramount Studios is one of the most accessible studios in Hollywood, even allowing visitors to take pictures within their premises. There are three types of tours you can choose here – The Studio Tour, VIP Tour and the After Dark Tour. Whilst in the Studio Tour visitors are given two hours to tour original studios, prop warehouse, iconic locations such as New York back lot and Bronson Gate. In the 4 and a half hours VIP Tour, visitors get a real behind the scenes experience apart from experiencing a private gourmet lunch offered by the studio. The After Dark Tour gives access to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
2. Warner Bros Studio
Warner Bros Studio was started in 1923 by four brothers – Albert, Harry, Sam, and Jack Warner. As one of the most iconic film studios of Hollywood, Warner Bros has produced not just some of the best films but also the best of television series. It was the first studio to go ‘talkie’ with the “Jazz Singer” in 1927 and throughout its history, it has almost revolutionized film making. The studio is welcoming to visitors with organized guided tours offering more than just a glimpse of the workings of a film. The studio which is spread over 100 acres has numerous sets, back lot streets, sound prods, museums, crafts shops and more. One of the biggest grossing films produced by Warner Bros was the “Harry Potter” series and there is a building dedicated to the film standing intact for visitors. You can experience the magical world of Harry Potter films right here. A Warner Bros tour also includes a visit to sets and props used in “Batman”, “Friends”, “Gilmore Girls” and much more! While on the open-sided vehicle tour around the studio, you will also visit shop fronts that were used in films like “The Last Samurai”, a small forest used in the 1930s film “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and more recently in the “Jurassic Park”.
3. Columbia Pictures/ Sony Pictures Studio
What is now known as Sony Pictures Studio was once called Columbia Pictures and later MGM Studios? It was founded in 1918 as Columbia Studios but in the initial years, it wasn’t considered to be an industry heavy-weight. Only when in 1934 its movie “It Happened One Night” won the Oscars did Columbia Pictures really come to the fore. Sony Entertainment bought Columbia Pictures in 1987 and since then the studio is named the Sony Pictures Studio. There are many hits under this banner including “Spiderman”, “Underworld” and “Men in Black”. There is a two-hour guided tour that is open Monday to Friday. You can visit soundstages that were used in films like “The Wizard of Oz”, “Men in Black” and “Spiderman”. On the tour, you can also visit the set of the popular game show called “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune”. A tour inside Sony Pictures studio, which is located in Culver City, means a lot of walking, so be prepared for it.
4. 20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox is one of the leading studios in Los Angeles and among the top studios worth taking a tour. In fact, it was till recently considered the second largest film studio in LA but with The Walt Disney Company taking over 20th Century Fox, statistical figures are likely to change. The 20th Century Studio has seen some of the most iconic films and televisions series being made under its name. Hit shows like “How I Met Your Mother”, “Modern Family”, “New Girl” and “Glee” have all been produced here. Iconic stars the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Shirley Temple, Jayne Mansfield, and Betty Grable all rose to stardom thanks to 20th Century Fox. A tour within this studio will give you an insider glimpse of how a film is made. Some of the iconic film sets can also be seen. If you are very lucky, you may be able to shake hands with a celebrity or two!
5. Universal Studios
Finally, if you want your LA sojourn to be complete then your last pit stop should be the Universal Studios. You can get “Back to the Future”, go on a shark hunt at the “Jaws” set, or run along dinosaurs from “Jurassic Park” – you can do all that and more only at the Universal Studios. The studio was founded in 1912 and since then has produced some of the best, most iconic films of all time. Films like “E.T The Extra-Terrestrial”, “Jurassic Park”, “War of the Worlds” have been made here. Many hit television series have also been made here, such as “Desperate Housewives”. A tour inside Universal Studios will take you around 13 city blocks and an amazing theme park. You can also catch a glimpse of famous sets, streets used in various films over the years here. A tour around Universal Studios is nothing short of a cinematic experience.
Plan your spring vacation to LA well before in advance and book your studio tours so that you can make the most of your Hollywood visit. There is so much to see, so much to experience that proper planning will ensure that all your dreams come true.