Warner Brothers Studio is the powerhouse behind some of the greatest classic films of all time. Casablanca being at the top. But they also produced James Dean’s three major motion pictures, East of Eden, Rebel without a Cause, and Giant, along with some wonderful television series. And today the Warner Brothers continues to make great and award winning movies and TV shows. What some people may not know is that you can actually visit Warner Brothers Studios and take a tour of its backlot and sound stages! I was thrilled when I found this out, and Patrick surprised me with tickets over the weekend.
First, I’m always happy when I can visit filming locations, but Warner Brothers’ backlot holds a special place in my heart with its ties to the James Dean’s films, the 1960s Batman series, and my favorite show, the little known series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (Some readers may remember that my devotion extended into me making not one but two cosplays of the character of Dixie Cousins.) However, I knew ahead of time that where the majority of Brisco filmed no longer existed. Like many studios, Warner Brothers had a western area on their backlot. Built in 1957, at the height of westerns, Laramie Street, as it was called, had scenes from not just Brisco film there, but the James Garner classic show Maverick (perhaps my favorite role of his), and Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles shot there as well. But as westerns grew less popular, and family sitcoms and one hour contemporary dramas began to take over the airwaves, Warner Brothers saw little use for Laramie Street, and bulldozed it in 2004 to make way for Warner Village, “a New England-style residential street” where the homes are not just facades, but working production offices as well.
However, Laramie Street is not the only location on Warner’s backlot that Brisco used. They shot extensively on their “New York” sets as well, which acted mostly as San Francisco. Including the Westerfield Club, the Horseshoe Club and the hotel where Brisco and Socrates dangle from a window. (All of the screencaps and their counterparts below are shown respectively.)
And like all shows, Brisco also shot on sound stages. Warner Brothers Studios’ stages all feature plaques that have a list of all of the movies and shows that have filmed on that stage. We were lucky enough to pass by one of the ones Brisco used, stage 19.
We also passed by the building used as police headquarters in Batman, as well as building that acted as the police station that an intoxicated Jim Stark was dragged to in Rebel Without a Cause. Which is currently being used as a high school for Pretty Little Liars.
The tour also featured a museum that rotates exhibits. During our visit the first floor was dedicated to Batman, since the new Batman vs. Superman movie is coming out soon, as well as it being the 75th anniversary of the caped crusader. However, the floor was given to Batman films beginning with Burton’s 1989 version through Batman vs. Superman. The upper floor on the other hand was dedicated to Harry Potter. At the conclusion of our tour we visited Stage 48, part museum, part store, part coffee house, that allows guests to gaze upon items from the archives, such as costumes, artwork and props, as well as experience green screen technology, forced perspective use, and sound mixing. I was most excited over the original Scooby-Doo pitch board and the puppets used in The Corpse Bride.
The Warner Brothers Studio Tour is similar in some ways to the tour at Universal Studios Guests. However when visiting Universal Studios you are mostly visiting an amusement park. The Studio Tour is a part of their heritage, and offers a peek into how movie magic is made, but they do not shy away from gimmicks. Warner Brothers’ tour is different in that it stays away from gimmicks, the tour group is smaller, and guests get to step off of their tour buses and walk along portions of the backlot, as well as onto sound stages (we walked onto the stages for The Big Bang Theory and Ellen), so overall, the Warner Brothers Studio Tour feels much more like a real working backlot, rather than a ride, as with Universal, although Universal is still very much a working set. I was so pleased to be able to visit such locations that mean a great deal to me, and I would honestly go back and do the tour again sometime in the future or when interested friends or family visit.
Other notable movies and shows that have used Warner Brothers’ backlot extensively are A Star is Born, Blade Runner, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Bonnie and Clyde, The Dukes of Hazard, ER, Friends, Gilmore Girls, and Pushing Daisies. For those wishing to visit the Warner Brothers Studio you can book through their website.