Seeing your home state in a film is a thrill. The landmark that can be easily recognized in a movie kind of becomes it's own celebrity. The Ingham County Courthouse has been used in feature films, so have sights in Leslie, Eaton Rapids, Jackson, Lansing, and even Escanaba.

Movie Magic Can Fake Michigan

Michigan would seem to be a very attractive filming location. It has everything, lakes, busy city streets, slow farm towns, sand dunes, waterfalls, and every season (sometimes in a single day). Alas, a lot of the movies where the story takes place in Michigan, were actually filmed somewhere else entirely.

Rotten Tomatoes via YouTube
Rotten Tomatoes via YouTube

With some of these films you'd expect they'd have to filmed in Michigan, especially when the entire story revolves around the City of Detroit. Not so. In fact several movies that supposedly take place in Motown are actually Dallas, Texas and Atlanta Georgia.

Google and Canva
Google and Canva

Why Aren't Studios Filming in the Mitten State?

Studios like to save money wherever they can and that means they want to film in states that offer them tax breaks to film there. Michigan at one time offered these incentives, but the lawmakers pulled them. In February of 2022, State Senator Adam Hollier sponsored a bill to bring the tax breaks and the studios. The bill was referred to committee on February 8th, 2022 and has remained there since.

NOT Made in Michigan!

Here 10 movies with plotlines involving events that take place in Michigan, but are filmed somewhere else:

Once Upon a River

Who would have thought that a story all about a Native American Girl living in 1970s rural Michigan was actually filmed in Antioch, Illinois. Watch the trailer again and it's obvious it's not Michigan, the roads are too nice.


A movie who is named after a Great Lake would have to be filmed on the shores of the UP on Lake Superior right? Wrong. The film was shot in upstate New York because the cost of flying a crew would have to been too expensive.

Robocop 1987

Bring law to the lawless people of Detroit is why Robocop was created. That's not Motown featured in the movie. Robo Cobs City Hall is actually the Dallas Municipal Building in Texas. Texas is was also the filming location for Robo's Police Station and his old house.

Robocop 2014

Not a single scene of this remake (that failed to live up to the original, but is still worth a watch) was filmed in Michigan. It wasn't it made in the USA. The bulk of this movie was shot in Canada.

The Irishman

Even though Hoffa's house was in Michigan, they used locations throughout New York and Long Island.

American Pie

Most of American Pie was based on Adam Herz time at East Grand Rapids High School, which was renamed East Great Falls. Despite the roots and the movie being set in Michigan, it was filmed mainly in California.

Evil Dead

Evil Dead and Michigan have been a debate for a while. Though popular opinion has this taking place in Michigan, it is actually people from Michigan on a trip to a Tennessee cabin. The confusion is based in a ret-con in the Ash vs. The Evil Dead SyFy series, in which the setting is changed from Tennessee to Michigan. For the record it was filmed in Morristown, Tennessee.

The Big Chill

None of the flashbacks to the characters time at U of M and Ann Arbor were actually filmed there. The entire movie was shot in South Carolina.

Reindeer Games

Not a single shot of this movie set in the Upper Peninsula is shot in the Mitten State. Filming took place in Canada for this 1999 Ben Affleck film.

The Crow

This 90s classic was set in Detroit but actually filmed in North Carolina and California, which seems odd. Isn't Detroit on the way from NC to Cali?

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