10 movies that should’ve been filmed in Oklahoma

Good news, local film buffs, aspiring actors, and Leonardo DiCaprio girlfriend-wannabes!

Last month, Governor Stitt signed into law the Filmed in Oklahoma Act of 2021, which provides corporate welfare to out-of-state corporations in return for them filming their movies in our starstruck state.

We think this is a great idea because…

1. Bragging rights

2. It helps the economy and the local film industry, which in return, helps the local “tabloid” media industry.

3. Production companies have already missed too many great opportunities to film in Oklahoma!

Just think about that last one for a second. Instead of giving all tax breaks and subsidies to Oil Overlords, what if Oklahoma lawmakers were boosting the movie industry 25 to 50 to even 100 years ago? Imagine all the great movies that could have, and thus should have, been filmed in Oklahoma.

Here are 10 that Patrick and I came up with:

1. Star Wars

Tatooine looks a lot like the Little Sahara in Waynoka and you could probably pass parts of northeast Oklahoma for Endor if you don’t get any meth labs in the shot.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird

Not only do many Oklahoma towns still have the buildings and infrastructure of the 1930s…they also have the institutional racism!

3. Rainman

Okay, some of the boring parts of this film were shot in Oklahoma, but now, instead of driving to Las Vegas to count cards and toothpicks, Charlie and Raymond could have stopped at Grand Casino off I-40!

4. 12-Hour Shift

FACT: This black comedy/horror movie about pill-popping nurses who harvest black-market organs of the recently deceased was apparently filmed in a real-life hospital in rural Arkansas. FACT: This horror movie could also have easily been filmed in rural Oklahoma and with less effort because it could’ve been a found footage film if they pulled the security tapes.

5. State Fair (1945)

Based on TLO’s old Oklahoma State Fair Photo Contests, I think it’s safe to say State Fair’s have changed a bit over the years. If they ever do a remake of this film, they should film it in Oklahoma and hire us as costume and wardrobe consultants.

6. Night at the Museum 4

Security guard Larry Daley (played by Ben Stiller) easily befriended a wax Theodore Roosevelt and prehistoric t-rex. But I don’t want to see an animated version in Night at the Museum 4. Instead, I want to see what kinds of shenanigans Larry prevents (or gets into) when he spends a nightshift with the birds at the 63rd street American Pigeon Museum.

7. Saw

Ya’ll ever been in a rural Oklahoma Dollar General bathroom after 9:00 PM?

8. Far and Away

If film subsidies existed back in the 1980s, maybe some of the ambitious and problematic scenes from this movie that’s set in Oklahoma could have been actually been filmed in Oklahoma, and not Montana.

9. Skeeter

After all that rain over the last two weeks, no CGI would be needed to film a remake of the 1993 movie about giant-ass mosquitos wreaking havoc upon society.

10. Oklahoma!

The movie version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical was filmed in Arizona. Unlike the magical kingdom in the setting of their musical “Cinderella” or the mythical land of Austria in “The Sound of Music,” Oklahoma is a real place they could’ve filmed in.

Hayley is going to watch a movie with her sweetie Sunday. Follow her on twitter @squirrellygeek and become a contributing member of TLO here.

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10 Responses


  1. Oklahoma has a variety of bankrupt and closed rural hospitals in which a movie like 12-Hour Shift could be made. Better dead than to receive money from Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, eh?

    Are there any live pigeons at the Pigeon Museum, or are they only the remains from one of Jim Inhofe’s fundraisers?

    Today I learned that there are THREE film versions of State Fair, and I have never seen any of them! The very forgettable 1962 edition starring Pat Boone was filmed on the studio lot in California, in Texas (where the events supposedly take place), and at the Oklahoma State Fair Raceway in OKC! So there’s that…

    The 1945 edition was all filmed in California at or near the studio. But the original 1933 version starred Will Rogers! That has to count for something.


    1. good post


  2. The one thing that neither the OK Film Office nor the current state leadership will want to bring up, but in 2018 the state legislature (republican representatives) tried to get rid of the Oklahoma Film tax credit incentive. They wanted to use the small amount from the incentive to give the teachers a pay raise (rather than tax the mythological oil and gas industry).

    Now suddenly in 2021 the republican leadership is all on-board for providing more tax credits to film production. While I completely support this and I am extremely glad they didn’t get rid of it in 2018, I have to ask- what is in it for them? Why the immediate change in support? The legislature is slow to do things that would help Oklahoma and are quick to do things to hinder it. Part of me wonders if and what back alley dealings are going on.

    It’s a similar issue with the Prairie Surf Studio (aka the Myriad). Who is fronting that group with cash? We see the talking heads that have a connection to Oklahoma and have worked in film speaking for them, but who is really behind it? They got an amazing sweetheart rent deal for one of the largest municipal buildings downtown, but we don’t know who is benefiting from it.


  3. Little known fact, “State Fair” (1962) was filmed in OKC, at least the race scenes. Pat Boone raced a Jag that was passed off as a homebuilt dirt racer.

    Of course the Speedway is gone now. Just an empty lot. At one time one of the great local race track facilities in the country. I spent many Friday nights there and miss it. It was done away with in typical Okla style, just neglect any upkeep, restrict any local help to save it, let it go to pot and then that’s the excuse to get rid of it. You might wonder what condition some of these MAPS projects will be in a generation?


    1. I agree John L. Not only did they finally come up with a reason to get rid of the State Fair Speedway, but also the Monorail and the Space Needle. So instead of investing in the infrastructure that in a big way made the State Fair what it was, just tear it down and put up more overpriced food & beer stands. The character of the fair is much diminished now. How about a film that shows how to destroy a tradition, filmed at NW 10th & May?

      However, some State Fair character could be revived if TLO would reinstate the State Fair Photo Contest!


    2. I was so happy when they stopped racing at the fairgrounds. We live way over near 23rd and Penn and on Friday nights it was so loud it was unpleasant to sit outside. I don’t know anybody anywhere around here that was sorry to see that go. A relatively small group of people’s passion, and we all had to deal with it.


      1. I grew up near 23rd and Portland and loved falling asleep to that sound.


      2. As a race fan, I can appreciate that. The last race had to start before 10 o’clock and usually ended before 10:30. Now the race track was there before many folks moved there but I can understand that most didn’t have the mobility to move. I lived a brief summer on 12th and Villa in the ’70s, it was OK with me. Maybe closing the track has helped the Plaza rehab too? Also gone, the smell of Packing Town too.

        There are lots of way to measure progress. I’ll miss the track. Hopefully you won’t miss a local landmark like I do. And I’m sorry you had to endure noise from events that I enjoyed.


  4. Little known fact: There is a state prison hospital in Lindsay. I’ve always thought that that would be a great plot element for a sci-fi/horror movie.


  5. Great idea, Hobo Joe! I can just picture a Frank Keating faced character as the ruthless bloodletting prison warden, who pockets enormous kickbacks for dispensing Martian-made synthetic Owsley’s LSD to behaviorally disordered inmates. Also, Mary Fallin and her daughter type characters, who run kinky and deadly games of extra intestinal fortitude, from their trailer stationed in the prison yard. It’d be so damn much fun!

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