Thursday, September 17, 2015

San Francisco is having a moment

Logically, Los Angeles would be the center of the cinematic universe.

In 2015, however, it's San Francisco.

After my viewing of The Diary of a Teenage Girl on Tuesday, I decided it was finally time to write about it.

My awareness that every movie released in 2015 takes place in San Francisco began when one of my friends posted that the big summer movies needed to blow up something other than the Golden Gate Bridge. But it's not just the destruction of that iconic landmark that has featured into 2015 feature films. Some of them, like The Diary of a Teenage Girl, are just set there.

How many? Well, let's find out.

1) The Age of Adaline is set in and around San Francisco. In fact, in this story of a modern-day woman who hasn't aged since early in the 20th century, the character's husband died while building the Golden Gate Bridge.

2) San Andreas is the first on this list in which the Golden Gate Bridge is destroyed. Possibly the only. But "destroying the Golden Gate Bridge" is something that has been done in films for ages, so no points for originality.

3) In Inside Out, Riley's family moves to San Francisco, famously sending Riley on a spiral into sadness, disgust, fear and anger. Her new hockey team in San Francisco is called the Fog Horns.

4) In Terminator Genisys, Sarah and Kyle materialize in the middle of a busy San Francisco highway when they time travel to 2017. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the requisite opening footage of post-apocalyptic destruction also includes a shot of the charred skeleton of the Golden Gate.

5) In Ant-Man, Pym Technologies is located on Treasure Island in San Francisco, and much of the shooting took place there. The Golden Gate also factors prominently into the promotional materials for this film.

6) On the Pixels poster, the giant Pac-Man is seen ready to scoop up the San Francisco metropolitan area in his digital jaws, with the Golden Gate in the foreground (undestroyed at the moment). This is the first film on this list I have not actually seen.

7) There's a scene in San Francisco in Vacation. I haven't seen this either.

8) The Perfect Guy features a trip to San Francisco. (I think I may be starting to grasp for straws here.)

9) And then of course The Diary of a Teenage Girl.

Is it statistically significant? Not sure about that. Could you do the same thing in any given calendar year for New York City? Probably. Maybe.

But the one thing you can't ignore is the number of big summer movies that featured San Francisco in peril, specifically the Golden Gate Bridge. There were at least three of those this year, and four if you count Ant-Man, which involved some kind of cataclysmic plot that I've already forgotten, but was certainly cataclysmic enough to have taken out the GGB since the movie takes place in SF.

Hollywood may be out of ideas, but it shouldn't be out of locations. You wouldn't think so, anyway. I suppose now that it's verboten to set any kind of disaster in New York City, San Francisco has the next most iconic skyline.

Well, I hope the San Franciscans I know still have roofs over their heads and are sleeping well tonight.

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