Thanks to a constantly evolving growth in Green screen and CGI technology, Movies have the opportunity to play almost anywhere. From historical times to distant planets, almost anything is possible when it comes to filming locations.

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While this technology has its advantages, filmmakers were previously forced to rely on creating their locations from scratch for years, and many continue to do so to this day. The following are some of the finest examples of exotic and extravagant sets built solely for the production of a film.

“The Abyss” (1989)

in the James Camerons underrated sci-fi epic, engineers and the estranged Lindsey couple (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and bud (EdHarris) are recruited to investigate an unidentified underwater object. Operating from the “Deep Core,” an underwater platform designed by Lindsey, they soon discover there is more to the mystery than they could ever imagine.

Known for his obsession with all things water, it’s no surprise that Cameron had a giant freshwater tank built The abyss, where most of the film was shot underwater. The tank was 55 feet deep and held over 7 million gallons of water, the largest of its kind at the time.

‘Crimson Peak’ (2015)

Gullermo del Toros Gothic Romance follows Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an aspiring American author who falls in love with Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). However, when she arrives at his remote manor house outside of England, she quickly becomes suspicious of Thomas and his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Using eerie premonitions, she must uncover the mysteries of the Sharpes and their haunted house before it’s too late.

A somewhat polarizing entry in del Toro’s filmography, most moviegoers would agree Crimson Peak is a wonderful piece of filmmaking. Much of this reputation is due to the massive early 20th century mansion, built with impeccable attention to detail. Del Toro felt the mansion should reflect the macabre nature of the story. From the sweeping hallways to the soaring foyer, it remains an eerie presence that is felt throughout the film.

‘Cleopatra’ (1963)

Cleopatra is the epic tale of a queen (Elizabeth Taylor) tries to preserve the legacy of the Egyptian Empire. Unfortunately, she finds herself between Julius Caesar (Rex Harrison) and Marc Antony (Richard Burton) along the way.

Famed for its myriad production troubles, the film was still a hit despite initially losing money due to its massive budget for the time. Much of this is due to the wildly elaborate set design, including a sequence in which Cleopatra rides into the Roman Forum on a throne embedded in a statue of the Sphinx. It remains a stunning sight to this day, a colossal symbol of glorious Hollywood excess.

‘Water World’ (1995)

After the polar ice caps melt, the Earth will be almost completely submerged in water. One of the few remaining humans, The Mariner (Kevin Costner), stumbles upon a young girl who may be the key to finding dry land. The Mariner must defend them when a ruthless band of pirates learns of their existence.

production for Water world was notoriously fraught with problems, including several sets being destroyed mid-production. However, the sets that made it into the film were spectacular. The most notable of these is the Atoll, a massive floating city with working doors and mechanics built off the coast of Hawaii. While the film itself is somewhat mixed, seeing this incredible behemoth of a set in action is more than worth it.

‘Moulin Rouge!’ (2001)

Young poet Christian (Ewan McGregor) travels to Paris in 1899 to lead a bohemian life. However, his world is turned upside down when he meets Satine (Nicole Kidman), a singer who mistakes him for the duke (Richard Roxburgh), in a busy theater called the Moulin Rouge. When the Duke finds out about this, he is furious and Satine and Christian’s love story becomes more and more complicated.

Baz Luhrmanns Not for everyone, this explosive Bollywood-inspired musical can only be described as the embodiment of sensory overload. This carries over to the lush and gaudy set design. A defining moment is a duet on a full-scale elephant statue. That’s not all, of course, as the elephant comes complete with a heart-shaped space in the middle.

‘Foreigner’ (1979)

Deep in space, a ship’s crew is awakened from cryosleep to investigate an alien vessel. On the ship, they discover bizarre alien technology, but soon learn that the darkest discovery has climbed aboard their ship and now lives among them.

Ridley Scotts This groundbreaking sci-fi horror masterpiece has brought us some of the most iconic images in the genre. The most prominent example is of course the fearsome Xenomorph, but closely followed by a bizarre alien relic dubbed the “Space Jockey”. The mysteries behind this haunting inanimate mass would not be fully explored until Scott Prometheus and Alien: Covenant Decades later, however HR GigerStill, the design has etched itself into the minds of thousands of fans for decades.

‘Metropolis’ (1927)

In a futuristic utopia, a young boy finds one part of the city among the others where workers have been inhumanely forced to live. When he enlists the help of a teacher, his father, an authority figure, soon discovers his plan to liberate the workers and create a wider social divide.

Fritz Langs The revolutionary silent film sci-fi epic is considered one of the greats of the era. It is best known for its elaborate sets, built primarily as miniatures. An intricate technique involving mirrors was used to make the sets appear to be of the same size as the actors. The hard work paid off, creating one of the most iconic sci-fi cityscapes in film.

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‘Rear Window’ (1954)

Photographer Jeff (James Stewart) finds himself confined to a wheelchair after an accident and stuck in his apartment. He looks out his window at the many locals going about their day just to while away the time. However, his new pastime takes a dark turn when he witnesses what appears to be a murder.

Alfred Hitchcock’s The beloved thriller may have been set in a single location, but the master of suspense was no less meticulous than usual when planning the film’s detailed setting. The entire neighborhood was built from the ground up in a soundstage and includes 31 individual apartments, each with a unique design. The giant replica had so many moving parts that it could be mistaken for a real neighborhood.

“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001)

When evil appears and threatens to destroy all good, the young hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) is forced to embark on a dangerous journey to stop him. With the help of a band of warriors, he must journey to Mount Doom to destroy a mystical ring and put an end to the mighty Lord Sauron and his reign of terror.

Peter Jackson blew the world away with his lived-in version of Middle-earth, straight from the pages of JRR Tolkien‘s beloved trilogy. Fans knew they were in good hands when they first saw the meticulously detailed setting of Frodo’s home town of Hobbiton, complete with ‘hobbit holes’ carved into the hills of the beautiful New Zealand countryside. Few fantasy films have created a more iconic introduction to a world than Howard Shore‘s delightful score, set over long takes of this beautifully designed city.

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Batman (1989)

After his parents were killed in an alley by a local criminal, Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) vows to protect his hometown of Gotham as a masked vigilante named Batman. Years later, a new criminal named Joker (Jack Nicholson) arrives and threatens Gotham City like never before.

Tim Burtons Batman exploded into the mainstream and created millions of new Batman fans. It certainly helped that his vision of Gotham was bold and creative. A whole section of the city was built just for the film on a lot inspired by a mix of Art Deco and French Gothic. The look was vintage and timeless at the same time, defining the aesthetic of the beloved Batman: The Animated Series.

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