Thanks to its characteristics and unique geography, Tenerife has long attracted big Hollywood studios and there have been a number of films made in Tenerife or inspired by the island. The diversity of its landscapes is impressive: volcanic, subtropical, urban, coastal, marine…all separated by short distances. This is what makes it possible to recreate many different corners of the world within just a few kilometers.
What’s more, the skills of local audiovisual companies, the fiscal incentives and benefits for producers, and a warm climate that permits filming outdoors throughout almost the entire year, complement the island’s attractions and make it an ideal backdrop for filming a movie. In fact, Tenerife has a long and interesting cinematographic history. The first film that made use of the island as a natural backdrop was Island Women of Tenerife Supplying Coal, filmed in 1896 by the Frenchman Gabriel Veyre.
Abama Resort has selected 5 of the best-known movies that have been filmed or inspired by the resplendent hills and idyllic landscapes of our island. Remember any of these?
One Million Years B.C. – 1966
Probably the biggest of the films made in Tenerife was One Million Years B.C. This movie debuted in 1966 and offered up Raquel Welch in “mankind’s first bikini.” Set in prehistoric times, it tells the tale of how caveman Tumak and his girlfriend Loana take on the harsh realities of monsters and volcanos when they are cast out of their respective tribes. The lunar landscape and untamed flora of Tenerife (especially the magnificent and endemic Torre de la Flor de Joyas) take front stage and, to simulate the eruption of the Teide volcano, the producers used wallpaper paste, oat flour, dry ice and red dye. Long live creativity!
Planet of the Apes – 1968
Starring Charlton Heston, Planet of the Apes tells the story of a group of astronauts that land on a planet in the distant future inhabited by apes that have become the dominant species while humans have been enslaved. The film features magnificent backdrops including beaches that could have been located on Tenerife. In fact, many have long maintained that the producers used the beaches at La Orotava, close to Puerto de la Cruz. Nonetheless, official sources on the island say that this is nothing more than a long-standing rumor and that Tenerife only served as an inspiration. The original Planet of the Apes was shot entirely in the United States.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – 2005
One movie that definitely was filmed in Tenerife is based on a science fiction novel by Douglas Adams, and starred Bill Nighy, Zooey Deschanel, Sam Rockwell, John Malkovich, and Alan Rickman. The opening scene is a dolphin show in the Loro Park zoo in Puerto de la Cruz that has four orcas and an enormous collection of different types of parrots. Have you made the trip yet?
Clash of the Titans – 2010
This was a remake of the 1981 film based on the myth of Perseus (one of the first heroes of Greek mythology, who battled against monsters like the Gorgon Medusa). In the movie, Perseus (Sam Worthington), son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), fights against monsters from the underworld to prevent them from destroying the world. Some of the scenes were filmed in the Teide National Park in Tenerife, made a World Heritage Site in 2007, where you can find the Teide volcano. At 3,718 metres, this is the tallest peak in Spain and all the landmasses emerging from the Atlantic Ocean.
The sequel, Wrath of the Titans, which opened the 30th of March, 2012, was also one of the films made in Tenerife: in Arico, Los Gigantes, and Teno. The crew of the film chose a spot close to the Mostaza mountain, about a kilometer from the entrance to the cable car, to build a temple featuring statues of gods that became the set for this new battle.
Bourne 5 – 2016
Just a few years later, in 2015, the exotic and tranquil Tenerife once again was chosen as the location for the filming of a superproduction: Bourne 5. This fifth installment of one of the best-known cinematographic sagas was directed once again by Paul Greengrass and written by Christopher Rouse. The backdrops chosen were various locations in the south of the island, but also and especially the capital Santa Cruz, transformed for a few days into the bustling city of Athens, hit hard by the crisis and overtaken by numerous protests against the system. The principal locations were the streets Poeta Tomás Morales, Aurea Díaz, Imelda Serís y Hero, and the Avenida de Anaga; plazas España and Candelaria; the neighborhoods of La Salud, Valleseco, and Taco; the airport Los Rodeos; and the town of San Cristobal de La Laguna, a UNESCO World Heritage City.
Now that you know of some of the films made in Tenerife, get out and see (or rewatch) them and see if you recognize any of the landscapes. And since you’re a resident of one of our luxury apartments and villas at Abama, and thus now part of the fabric of Tenerife culture, don’t be surprised if one day you find yourself on a set featuring terrible explosions, hot pursuits and gunshots. All fiction, of course!