Posted by: Jerry Garrett | November 9, 2010

The Whacked-Out Geography of “Due Date”

Fun featurette included as a distraction; not really relevant to story below. Enjoy!

The San Gabriel Mountains of southern California are, last time I looked, nowhere near Dallas, Texas.

But in the film, “Due Date”, the protagonists are shown in one scene of the movie driving past a road sign that says Dallas is 30 miles away. In the background, the cloud-topped San Gabriels are prominently visible.

Dallas, Texas (Note, extreme lack of mountains)

I’ve been to Dallas, folks, and I’ve got to tell you: For hundreds of miles in any direction, the country around Dallas is as flat as a flapjack.

Making Make-Believe Unbelievable

Sure, we’ve seen movies where we think, “Hey! That’s not Paris, it’s Prague.” (“The Bourne Identity“) Or, “That looks more like Toronto than New York.” (“Salt”) Or, “If this is a Roman Polanski movie, that can’t really be Cape Cod.” (“The Ghost Writer”)

Okay, so it’s a movie, and everything about it make-believe. But the road trip in “Due Date” is the most whacked-out cinematic misadventure since 2009’s “Leap Year”, which turned the map of Ireland inside out.

"I don't think this is Kansas, Toto" (Legendary Pictures)

Example: Peter Highman (oh, the irony, for Robert Downey Jr.) and Ethan Tremblay (Zach Galifianakis) are driving along chatting, while out the window the scenery changes from city streets with medians, to mountain roads, to kudzu-lined Georgia two-lane byways, to interstates through New Mexico flatlands, and then to what looks a lot like the San Fernando Valley near L.A. All in the same scene.

ONT not ATL

“Due Date” supposedly begins in Atlanta, Georgia, with some pivotal scenes at “Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport”.

ONT, not ATL

Actually, the airport used for the actual shooting is in Ontario, California. ONT is a little easier to film at – we’ll give the filmmakers credit here – because ATL is among the two or three busiest airports in the United States. Out here in California, ONT is so lacking in business (or busy-ness) that many of us wonder why it exists at all.

Funny thing, though, a bunch of the movie was shot in and around Atlanta. Just not at the airport.

More Route 66 than I-20

While in and around Ontario, why not pop over to the area around Fontana (Interstate 210, Etiwanda Ave.) and Rialto to do some of that “Dallas” cinematography? I think they also shot on Historic Route 66, which runs through the area.

Wigwam Motel in Rialto, Calif. (Note, mountains at rear) (Rt 66 Univ)

If you decide to check it out for yourself, plan a stop at the Wigwam Motel there; it was the inspiration for the “Cozy Cone Motel” in the movie “Cars”. (A second Wigwam Motel, in Holbrook, Arizona, claims similar inspiration.)

Scenes also seem to have been shot on old U.S. 66 (and I-40, which parallels it) in and around Ludlow, California and between Peach Springs and Kingman, Arizona.

Where I-85, I-75 & I-20 meet

Intersecting Interstates

The script mentioned Interstate 20, which does go through Atlanta. But I believe when they were referring to I-20, they were actually on I-85, heading south, toward Montgomery and Mobile – not to “Dallas” and points west.

And although Robert Downey’s character maps out a route that follows interstates (mostly I-20, which ends just east of El Paso, Texas) entirely, the cameras show the stars driving down various two-lane roads.

Déjà vu

Check me on this: But in the scenes driving around Atlanta, note the cars in the background shots (I assume these are “green screen” B-roll shots). They don’t have front license plates. Now, scope out the cars following the heroes later in the movie, when they are supposedly in Arizona and/or California; aren’t those the same cars?

Georgia, by the way, is one of a handful of states that do not require a front plate. (Okay, so Arizona and New Mexico don’t either.)

But it looks like more B-roll of the same model SUVs, etc., that were following them in Georgia.

Welcome to Las Cruces! (Las Cruces Rentals)

Where Did They Go?

Where was the balance of “Due Date” shot? New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment – and the land of huge subsidies for filmmakers. Sites around Las Cruces and a studio in Albuquerque were used most.

I’m thinking the film’s $65 million budget needed some subsidizing after paying the movie’s high-priced talent, and buying all that weed.

The Internet Movie Database website indicates filming locations from Atlanta to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on I-20.

After that, there’s not much indication they really shot anywhere in Texas – although Interstate 25 between El Paso and Las Cruces, New Mexico, was heavily used.

In fact, portions of I-25, near its intersection with U.S. 70 in Las Cruces, were shut down for filming of the movie from Oct. 9-25, 2009. Some 100 extras were hired from among the locals; another 75 or so crew were brought to town and housed for nearly a month. Biggest thing to happen to Las Cruces since the railroad came to town in 1860.

Subarus jump well; land less so (Rally America)

I believe that is where the stunt with the Subaru rental car diving off the bridge and landing on its roof was filmed, along with the chase sequence using the “stolen” Mexican customs truck and the portable office trailer.

It’s a House, not a Hospital

The “hospital” where Peter and Ethan wind up is actually in Los Angeles (at least something was correctly placed). But the hospital was actually the House Ear Institute, near the St. Vincent Medical Center, on W. 3rd St. in L.A.

Grand Canyon at Hualapai Reservation (Adventure Las Vegas)

Grand Canyon, anyone?

Finally, if you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon, you have to be wondering, where in the heck where they when that scene was filmed? It wasn’t the South Rim, or the North Rim, or anyplace else you are likely to have ever seen.

The location wasn’t even in Grand Canyon National Park.

The scene was shot on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. The Colorado River and the Grand Canyon it cut through the mountains runs along the northern boundary of the tribe’s reservation (from just east of the Toroweap Overlook, to just west of Grand Canyon West – where Robbie Knievel’s illusory motorcycle jump took place in 1999).

The tribe’s lands are among the least-visited of Arizona’s main tourist attractions. They’ve tried to address that of late by building the vertigo-inducing Skywalk attraction, and encouraging visitors.

And finally…

Oh…and that “Two and a Half Men” bit at the end of the movie? It really was filmed on the television show’s set.

But it isn’t actually shot in Malibu, California; it’s in Burbank.

In the end, though, I guess it is all just that big place we call “Hollywood”.

Jerry Garrett

November 9, 2010

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Responses

  1. Yep, the scene with the rental was shot on Highway 70 in Las Cruces. I believe it was the Sonoma Ranch exit (but I could be off by one exit at most). I saw the glass on the ground after they filmed as I happened to drive through that area later on. At the time I didn’t connect the glass on the road with the filming.

    Any scene with “pink” concrete highway dividers (those pink concrete walls) were shot in and around Las Cruces.

    I think the night scene where they were getting stoned in the car and driving was filmed outside of Las Cruces as well.

    Early in the movie, supposedly east of Texas, there was a sunrise or sunset mountain scene briefly. That was East of the Organ Mountains on Highway 70. I drive over those mountains every day.

    I got a big kick out of trying to figure out where all the scenes were. I thought it was a little sad that they misused most of them, but it didn’t really affect the story. If you spent more time getting upset at the inconsistencies in background scene filming then you really missed the whole point of the movie anyway.

    I’ve watched it a few times with various people and still think it was a very funny movie.

  2. Could you please identify this road?

    Thank you.

    • It looks to me like Interstate 10 in New Mexico. The railroad & interstate run more or less parallel through that area.

      • Thank you! It’s magnificent, isn’t it!

  3. Ok they were at atlanta airport terminal south. They were on I75 southif you look closely you see turner field in back groung. And the town and country hotel you see in background is on metropolitan.

  4. […] The Whacked-Out Geography of “ Due Date ” | Garrett On … – Nov 09, 2010 · Posted by: Jerry Garrett | November 9, 2010 The Whacked-Out Geography of “Due Date”… […]

  5. […] Canyon photos by Lauren; Movies: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, […]

  6. I noticed that during the driving scenes between Dallas and Shreveport on I 20, there is a large bridge that looks like the ones that go over the Mississippi River. In real life, there are no large bridges between Dallas and Shreveport on I-20.


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