Before Tom Cruise Goes to Space: The Most Extreme Movie Shoot Locations Ever

Long before shooting in outer space presented itself as a potential reality, Hollywood traveled to the far corners of the Earth to bring new worlds to life.

By Billy Nilles Aug 02, 2020 2:00 PMTags
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Tom Cruise just might be getting ready to go where no actor has ever gone before.

The iconic actor, knowing for his daring approach to filmmaking, is reportedly preparing to up the ante as the star of the first narrative feature to shoot in space. According to Deadline, who broke the story in May that Cruise was working on an action-adventure flick to be filmed literally out of this world, the project has the support of both Elon Musk's SpaceX and NASA. In fact, Jim Bridenstine, administrator of the latter agency, tweeted in May, "NASA is excited to work with @TomCruise on a film aboard the @Space_Station! We need popular media to inspire a new generation of engineers and scientists to make @NASA's ambitious plans a reality."

While Cruise has yet to comment on the film's existence, director Doug Liman is said to be writing the script. The two previously worked together on American Made and Edge of Tomorrow. What's more, the price tag on the film is reported to be in the ballpark of $200 million.

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Before shooting on location in outer space presented itself as a realistic possibility, Hollywood used to travel the far corners of our home planet to find ways of bringing the cosmos down to Earth. While we await word on whether Cruise's spacewalk will actually happen, take a look at a few of the most far-flung movie locations you might actually be able to visit yourself one day. (Assuming we're not all living on Mars in 20 years or something.)

iStockphoto; Melissa Herwitt / E! Illustration
Petra, Jordan

Thanks to 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade filming in this ancient city in the south of the small Western Asian country, moviegoers were given a glimpse of ancient architecture like The Treasury, pictured here.

Atacama Desert, Chile

Quantum of Solace, the 2008 installment in the James Bond franchise, took viewers to the more desolate and surreal regions of this imposing desert in the South American country.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. As the world's largest salt flat, this 3,900-square-mile playa near the crest of the Andes in South America is essentially a pure white desert, desolate and deceptively reflective. Star Wars fans were transported to the otherworldly region in 2017's The Last Jedi, where it stood in for the planet Crait.

Putangirua Pinnacles, New Zealand

This breathtaking geological formation, an example of badlands erosion, was unforgettably used as the filming location for part of the Paths of the Dead sequence in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, released in 2003.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

When Marvel was looking for locations to stand in for Wakanda in aerial shots used in 2018's Black Panther, they turned to this 124-square-mile park in southwestern Uganda. Celebrated for its species diversity, the park is almost as secluded as the nation it represented on screen. It's accessible only by foot.

Skellig Michael, Ireland

The Last Jedi also introduced moviegoers to this twin-pinnacled crag just off the west coast of Ireland in the Atlantic, using it as the remote island on Ahch-To where Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) had cloistered himself. The island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Kananskis County, Canada

Though it may appear pleasant and unassuming here, this park system situated in the foothills and front ranges of the Canadian Rockies just west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada is where director Alejandro González Iñárritu spent most of his time torturing Leonardo DiCaprio to an Oscar win in 2015's The Revenant

Banue Rice Terraces, The Philippines

In the very last scene of 2018's Avengers: Infinity War, directors Anthony and Joe Russo needed somewhere to let Thanos rest after snapping half of all life out of existence. Standing in for the peaceful and unnamed planet where the villain took his leave were these terraces carved into the mountains in Ifugao in the Philippines, occasionally referred to as the unofficial "Eighth Wonder of the World."

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China

While the floating Hallelujah Mountains seen on Pandora in James Cameron's 2009 blockbuster Avatar were almost entirely digitally created, they were inspired by this astonishing park in the Hunan Province of China. 

Wadi Rum, Jordan

This red sand desert in Jordan, also known as the Valley of the Moon, stood in for Mars in the 2015 film The Martian, starring Matt Damon. It wasn't the first to make use of the gorgeous locale, however. Tourism in the region began way back in 1962 after Lawrence of Arabia filmed there.