Fly to the Movies with Virgin Atlantic

By: Maxine Sheppard

November 25, 2013

If you’re flying with us during November and December, we’ve got another sparkling line-up of inflight entertainment planned – including a winning selection of movies that make us want to instantly pack our suitcase and head for more exciting locales.


And how about you? Are there movies which send you straight into travel daydreaming mode, or stir up memories of previous trips? We’d love to hear which blockbusters have made you pack your bags and run to the nearest airport, so do share your thoughts in the comments below.


As for us, we don’t think anything whets the travel appetite quite like a twinkling celluloid skyline, or an aerial shot of a dramatic landscape, or even just an intimate street-scene in a faraway city. Films can trigger the travel bug in an instant, and our current selection sees some of our very own Virgin Atlantic destinations brought beautifully to life on the silver screen. Take a look below at a handful of our current crop, plus we reveal where some of their most memorable scenes were shot.


The Wolverine


As one of our favourite leading men, we couldn’t wait to get Hugh Jackman back on board as he reprises his role as lead character Logan in this sixth installment of the X-Men series. The movie sees him travelling to Japan, a country we can never get enough of either on-screen or off, where he engages in the ultimate battle with lethal samurai and his own personal demons. Although most of the scenes were filmed on location in Sydney, several were set in Tokyo itself, including the funeral of Yashida which took place at the Buddhist Zojoji temple next to the Tokyo Tower, along with scenes of Logan and love interest Mariko getting onto a bullet train at the city’s Ueno Station. (Tip: if you ever find yourself there, don’t miss beautiful Ueno Park right next door – it’s one of the best places in Tokyo to see the famous cherry blossoms.)


And when Logan and Mariko check into a “˜Love Hotel’, it’s actually the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Ginza, alongside Tokyo’s Shinjuku Central Park. In fact, in “˜real life’ it’s not even a hotel but an early example of capsule mixed-use residential and office space which has deteriorated pretty badly internally, though a small number of the original capsules remain in use as apartments. But we just love how it still looks so futuristic even after all these years.

Nakagin Capsule Tower © scarletgreen.jpg


Nakagin Capsule Tower © scarletgreen

Blue Jasmine


One of our standout films of the year is Woody Allen’s highly-acclaimed comedy-drama Blue Jasmine, which sees Cate Blanchett take on the role of a rich Manhattan socialite who ends up both homeless and broke, dependent on her working class sister Ginger who works as a checkout clerk and lives in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Frequent flyers familiar with the City by the Bay will no doubt recognise filming locations (and popular tourist sites) like Ocean Beach (which by the way, is one of our fave sunset-viewing spots in the city – fog permitting) and the now-rather-gentrified Haight-Ashbury district, while back in the Big Apple, told mainly in flashback, we’re treated to scenes of trendy Tribeca, Fifth Avenue, and the South Street Seaport, as well as a beachfront home on the South Shore of Long Island that the previously well-to-do Jasmine shared with businessman Hal, played by Alex Baldwin. Well, we can’t fault her taste  – as you may have read before, we’re partial to a bit of Long Island grandeur ourselves.

Haight Ashbury neighbourhood, San Francisco © Alaskan Dude.jpg

Haight Ashbury neighbourhood, San Francisco © Alaskan Dude


Behind the Candelabra


We were more than thrilled to see Michael Douglas win the Best Actor Emmy for his performance in this film a couple of months ago. Steven Soderbergh’s incredible drama about the last ten years of the life of flamboyant pianist Liberace (played by Douglas) is a firm favourite ’round these parts, and of course we’ll jump at any opportunity to show one of our favourite destinations looking her retro best. Set in the glitter-soaked Las Vegas of the mid-1970s, Candelabra was filmed in various locations around the city including the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino (formerly the Las Vegas Hilton) where the musician had a long-standing performing contract in real life.


Although some exceptionally elaborate sets were created to represent the peacockish interiors of his lavish homes, it was Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Los Angeles mansion in Bel Air which doubled as the exterior and outdoor pool for Liberace’s Sin City residence. No detail was too trivial, with the set designers even painting a piano-key design along the pool’s edge, which remains in place today.

Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, formerly the Las Vegas Hilton © maywong_photos.jpg

Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, formerly the Las Vegas Hilton © maywong_photos


The Heat


If you missed this latest outing with woman-of-the-moment Sandra Bullock, you’re in for a treat and of course, we can never get enough of Melissa McCarthy. The inspired pairing team up in buddy/cop movie The Heat to play an FBI agent and foul-mouthed cop on the trail of a mobster drug lord, and other than simply being very funny, the film has been described as a full-on love letter to Boston – a city which comes close to stealing the show in nearly every movie it’s starred in (think: Mystic River, The Departed, Good Will Hunting).

In addition to all the well known (and not so well known) city locales in the film, director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Freaks and Geeks) employed plenty of local actors and actresses, and is said to have fallen in love with Boston and its people while shooting his crime comedy there. Keep your eyes peeled for old city landmarks like South End’s Boston Herald Building, various streets in Roxbury and Dorchester, Boston Harbour, Old Norfolk Tap in Uphams Corner and a number of other locations in and around the city.

View of Boston Harbor © rmlowe.jpg

View of Boston Harbor © rmlowe

Header photo of Hollywood © aepg

And don’t forget – we want to hear from you. Which films have you enjoyed onboard recently? Do you look to the movies for travel inspiration, or have you ever travelled to a destination solely on the basis of a film? Tell us your stories in the comments below.


Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.