The usage of the green screen has become essential for many films, especially in the last few years. With the rise of big fantasy and sci-fi blockbusters, and, above all, superhero films, which feature people with non-human skills and big fights, the presence of CGI is inevitable.
These films use special effects heavily, and green screen helps them to create realistic places, people, and scenarios which would be almost impossible to film otherwise—at least, in a real-looking way. But you might be surprised to find out that some much more down-to-earth films also made use of green screen effects. Here are 10 movies you didn’t realize were filmed in front of a green screen.
10 Deadly Honeymoon
You probably don’t know of this 2010 film since it wasn’t released in the cinemas but was filmed directly for TV. The film stars Summer Glau as Lindsey, a newly married woman. Lindsey and her husband Trevor decide to spend their honeymoon on a one-week long romantic cruise on a ship.
Unfortunately for the new couple, it soon becomes obvious that they have a different idea about how they should be spending the cruise. Lindsey wants to spend more time with her husband, but Trevor prefers making new friends, and then he disappears, and Lindsey is found sitting on the deck, not remembering anything. The film uses the green screen for portraying the interior of the ship, like when Lindsey is standing on the deck.
9 Life Of Pi
Even though Deadly Honeymoon and Life of Pi both take place on an open sea, the difference between them possibly couldn’t be any greater. Life of Pi drew a lot of attention to it when it was released back in 2012. It tells the story of a young boy who ends up stranded on a ship whose only other passenger is a tiger.
You probably won’t be surprised by finding out that the tiger was CGI, not a real animal, but did you know the film’s creators didn’t film on a real sea and instead used the green screen to make it seem like it? Filming on a sea is highly unpredictable, so they used a pool, instead.
8 The Great Gatsby
The 2013 film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classical book doesn’t belong to the genre of science-fiction or fantasy, so some viewers might think that it didn’t require the use of the green screen to transform the book into a film. However, The Great Gatsby does take place in the past, and it relied on more than just period costumes and hairstyles, as well as a mixture of modern and old music.
New York has changed in countless ways since the 1920s, and it looks much different in the 21st century then it did a century ago. As a result, it was necessary to use the green screen to show what the city of all cities used to be like in the past.
7 The Wolf Of Wall Street
The Great Gatsby isn’t the only Leonardo DiCaprio film that made it onto this list. The actor often stars in period movies—and not just Titanic, which might immediately spring to the minds of some viewers—but also the more recent 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, which was inspired by true events.
The film brings its audience back to the 1990s and is a mixture of humor, drama, romance—however twisted it may seem at times—and crime, all of this in a three-hour package. Instead of filming in an actual port, it uses the green screen to show the characters walking throughout a port.
6 Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn
Yes, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn does unmistakably belong to the fantasy genre since it revolves around vampires and werewolves, and it also uses its fair share of special effects, especially when it needs to portray the vampires’ and werewolves’ abilities, and, of course, the transformation into werewolves.
However, it also uses the green screen in a way you might not expect. When Bella and Edward are enjoying their romantic getaway, Bella sleeps in a bed, and Edward is standing near an open window showing a beautiful view of the water and nature outside. The view in that scene was added later on, as this it was originally filmed against the green screen.
5 San Andreas
Another useful trick films often use when they need to include special effects, is playing with perspective. It’s twice more useful, as the technique has been around for a long time, much longer than any CGI, or computer-generated imagery, if you’d like. It takes time to build it, but is usually worth the effort, and it also makes for some truly fascinating behind-the-scenes images.
Such was the case of the 2015 catastrophic and adventure film San Andreas. Dwayne Johnson plays the leading role, a man who goes to save his daughter when a powerful earthquake erupts in California. It looks very realistic in the film, but the bridge was actually very small and filmed against a green screen.
4 A Good Day To Die Hard
Just like San Andreas, the 2013 film A Good Day To Die Hard is an action-flick, and, as such, it used the green screen. Action films feature a lot of car chases, gunfights, and, of course, explosions, so it’s often a safe bet to put the green screen into action.
Not only is it safer for everyone involved—actors and crew included—but it’s also considerably cheaper. If the creators of A Good Day To Die Hard decided to let an actual helicopter explode, it’d be not only insanely dangerous, but also really expensive, so it’s better to just use the green screen.
Did you miss Leonardo DiCaprio already? Then here’s some good news! Let’s take a look at another of his iconic films, the already-mentioned 1997 Oscar-winning Titanic, which basically kickstarted DiCaprio’s career on a large scale.
The film was difficult to make, considering it was filmed in the mid-1990s, but its director, James Cameron, didn’t give up, and the result, as most people will probably agree, is well worth it. Even though a model of the ship was available, Cameron and the crew also used the green screen for some of the scenes, like Rose’s and Jack’s first kiss, and the “I’m flying!” scene.
Of all of the films on this list, the super funny 2018 comedy Tag is probably the last film you’d suspect of using any CGI. As with many modern Hollywood films, though, it didn’t shy away from the technique.
Jeremy Renner plays a man who’s been playing a game of tag with his friends for the decades. He’s never been tagged before, which makes his friends frustrated. When they find out that Renner’s hero is about to get married, they decide it’s their last chance to tag him before he becomes a married man. Renner broke both of his arms (ouch) early in the production phase, so he had to wear green sleeves over his casts, basically, a small version of the green screen and the crew then used computers to replace Renner’s own arms with an uninjured set of arms.
1 Shutter Island
His hero Jack Dawson from Titanic called himself “king of the world,” but Leonardo DiCaprio, should he choose to, could easily call himself “king of the green screen.” Catchy, don’t you think?
Anyway, besides the films mentioned above, Leonardo DiCaprio also starred in a 2010 film Shutter Island, directed by the legendary director Martin Scorsese. The movie is a mystery thriller about a detective Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio) who goes to investigate the disappearance of a crazy female murderer who disappeared from an asylum where she was held. The film is brilliant and unpredictable, and it also used the green screen to bring its rich atmosphere to all the viewers. Sometimes it’s just easier and cheaper to use the green screen than to build all the sets, especially if you’re filming a period piece.
NEXT: 10 CGI Movies That Are Artistic Masterpieces