2019 Film Anniversaries featuring Utah

Cover photos by Andrea David, @filmtourismus

Utah has been home to some of the most beloved and iconic films over the last 80 years. Discover those films that celebrated milestone anniversaries in 2019!

5 Year Anniversary (2014):

The Giver

This year we had the 5th anniversary of the release of ‘The Giver’. Based on the 1993 novel by Lois Lowry, ‘The Giver’ stars Brenton Thwaites, Jeff Bridges, and Meryl Streep. The story takes place in a dystopian society where there is no war, pain, suffering, differences or choice. A young boy, Jonas, is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the “real” world. The cabin featured in the film is located in Brighton, UT.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

This year also marked the 5th Anniversary of ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, and Jack Reynor. Parts of the film were shot at Hole N” The Rock where Cade (Wahlberg) uses the ATM at Hole N” The Rock and the transformers drive through Utah’s Monument Valley.

Need for Speed

Fresh from prison, a street racer who was framed by a wealthy business associate joins a cross country race with revenge in mind. His ex-partner, learning of the plan, places a massive bounty on his head as the race begins. The film was released in 2014, and stars Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, and Imogen Poots, and was partially shot in Moab and the Bonneville Salt Flats.


10 Year Anniversary (2009):

Star Trek

Released in 2009, Star Trek stars Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Simon Pegg. The setting for Planet Vulcan is actually in Utah’s San Rafael Swell

Gentleman Broncos

Written by Jared and Jerusha Hess, a teenager attends a fantasy writers’ convention where he discovers his idea has been stolen by an established novelist. The film stars Michael Angarano, Jemaine Clement, and Mike White and was filmed in parts of Salt Lake City.



15 Year Anniversary (2004):

Napoleon Dynamite

Can you believe this cult classic turned 15 this year?! Napoleon Dynamite is the first feature film from husband and wife duo, Jared and Jerusha Hess, and is partially adapted from Jared Hess’ short film, Peluca. The film follows socially-awkward 16-year-old Napoleon as he decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home. Parts of the film were shot at Big J’s Drive-in in Richmond, UT.




20 Year Anniversary (1999):

Galaxy Quest

Galaxy Quest was released on Christmas Day in 1999, making it 20 years old this year! The film follows a group of actors, starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, and Alan Rickman, whose fictional tv-show, Galaxy Quest, has been canceled for several years. They turn to conventions and promotions to live out their glory days when suddenly, the actors are taken to space by an alien species called Thermians who believe the Galaxy Quest franchise is real and have modeled their lives around it. The film was partially shot in Utah, using Goblin Valley State Park as the alien planet.


25 Year Anniversary (1994):

City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold

City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold was released on June 10, 1994, making it 25 years old this year. Starring Billy Crystal, Jack Palance, Jon Lovitz, and Daniel Stern, filming took place in areas of Moab, Arches National Park, and Goblin Valley State Park.

Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump was released in the summer of ‘94, marking its 25th Anniversary this year! The presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson, the events of Vietnam, Watergate, and other history unfold through the perspective of an Alabama man with an IQ of 75. When Forrest Gump decides he is done running and it’s time to go home, he is in Utah’s iconic Monument Valley – now known as ‘Gump Point’. 


Maverick stars Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, and James Garner and was released in May of 1994. Bret Maverick (Gibson) is a recreation of James Garner’s character from the 1950s TV program. Parts of the film were shot in Utah’s Glen Canyon.

Dumb & Dumber

Dumb & Dumber may take place in Aspen, but most of the filming was actually in Utah. After a woman leaves a briefcase at the airport terminal, a dumb limo driver and his dumber friend set out on a hilarious cross-country road trip to Aspen, to return the briefcase to its owner. Starring Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, filming took place in places like; Salt Lake City International Airport, La Caille, Smith Apartments, and Park City Main Street, among many others. This cult classic is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. 


30 Year Anniversary (1989):

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The opening sequence of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the film stars Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, and Alison Doody, and features River Phoenix as young Indiana Jones. The opening scene shows young Indiana Jones navigating the Red Rock of Moab, UT. (article) Paramount released the 3rd installment of Indiana Jones in 1989, it was one the highest-grossing film that year.





35 Year Anniversary (1984):


A city teenager moves to a small town where rock music and dancing have been banned, and his rebellious spirit shakes up the populace. The film stars Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, and John Lithgow and was filmed primarily in Utah. Filming locations include; Payson, Payson High School, Orem, American Fork, Lehi Roller Mills, and Provo.

40 Year Anniversary (1979):


The Electric Horseman

The Electric Horseman was released 40 years ago this year! Starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, this 1979 film is a heartwarming story of a sell-out, famous rodeo rider, Sonny Steele (Redford) that frees a $12 million purebred show horse from a life of doping and being prodded around as an entertainer in Vegas. Meanwhile, a reporter, Hallie Martin (Fonda), takes the opportunity to report on this ground-breaking story.

Utah’s Zion National Park provided the perfect backdrop for ‘The Electric Horseman’. The expansive desert’s ever-changing and exquisite landscape highlighted the beauty of Utah’s backyard. Not only was Zion explored throughout the movie, but St. George also was the setting for an exciting police chase reminiscent of the Westerner trope of sheriffs chasing bandits. 

50 Year Anniversary (1969):

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid released into theatres in September of 1969, marking its 50th Anniversary this year! The film starred Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Katharine Ross and told the story of Utah-native turned outlaw, Butch Cassidy, his partner, The Sundance Kid, and the infamous “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang”. The film showcased Utah’s beautiful scenery and featured; Zion National Park, Grafton, St. George, and Monument Valley.

Easy Rider

Easy Rider turns 50 this year! The film starred Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper, and had its World Premiere at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival, eventually released into the United States on July 14, 1969. The film shot all over the US, which included parts of Utah’s Monument Valley. It had a budget of well under $1M, eventually grossing about $60M worldwide. The ambitious guerilla-style filmmaking launched a new wave of counterculture blockbusters, forever changing Hollywood. Plus, who can forget that ending?!



70 Year Anniversary (1949):

She Wore a Yellow Ribbon

Did you know She Wore a Yellow Ribbon won the 1950 Academy Award for Best Cinematography (Color), but not without a good story. The production shot for 3 weeks in 1948 in Utah’s legendary Monument Valley. The story goes that on the last day of shooting, the sky darkened and thunderstorms rolled in. By varying accounts, Director of Photography, Winton Hoch, was either asked or demanded by John Ford to get a shot even though the light levels were too low for Technicolor film. Hoch filed a formal protest with the American Society of Cinematographers, complaining that the scene Ford ordered him to shoot was not acceptable. What came of the ordeal, is a spectacular scene that will always be remembered in Film History.

(Source: AFI Catalog, ‘When Hollywood Came to Town’ by James V. D’Arc)

80 Year Anniversary (1939):


Stagecoach was released in 1939, directed by John Ford and stars John Wayne, Claire Trevor, and Andy Devine. The Monument Valley scenes in the film amount to about 90 seconds of screen time but the brief exposure of the Mittens and the undulating valley floor on which they stand became the signature image from the film and an iconographic statement of the West.

(Source: ‘When Hollywood Came to Town’ by James V. D’Arc)

Union Pacific

Union Pacific is a 1939 film directed by Cecil B. DeMille and stars Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea. While most of the actors shot on a green screen in Hollywood, the landscapes were partially shot in Kanab and Cedar City. The film even used the original golden spike that was used on May 10, 1869, on loan from Stanford University.


Allie Russell is the Marketing Coordinator at the Utah Film Commission and is based in Salt Lake City.
For any press and media inquiries, contact the Utah Film Commission at cmmartin@utah.gov.