Hollywood loves to demolish Sin City. Last weekend the movie “San Andreas” opened and shook up the box office, earning more than $113.2 million globally. It proves that audiences flock to see the apocalyptic, over-the-top destruction of well-known cities – like Vegas – caused by an alien invasion, natural disaster, zombies or science gone wrong. Ah, such glorious chaos!
Wiping out the Strip, Fremont Street and nearby attractions like Hoover Dam on the big screen has been popular for decades, dating back to 1957 with “The Amazing Colossal Man.” And because it’s oddly cool to watch this city we know and love get obliterated, we’ve put together a list (in reverse chronological order) of 10 films in which Vegas takes a beating.
When it was released: 2015
Who’s in it: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Carla Gugino, Ioan Gruffold and Paul Giamatti
Scenes of Sin City destruction to look for: An earthquake in Nevada awakens the San Andreas fault and triggers a swarm of earthquakes in California. The repercussions? Hoover Dam, which reins in the mighty Colorado River, cracks and falls apart. The reality: It would be virtually impossible for an earthquake or anything else to damage this 726.4-foot-tall, 6.6-million-ton concrete and steel behemoth…but it’s still neat to see what Hoover Dam might look like if it were to fall to pieces.
When it was released: 2014
Who’s in it: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston
Scenes of Sin City destruction to watch for: Although the movie is called “Godzilla,” it also features a couple of pterodactyl-like MUTOs (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organisms). Remnants of a prehistoric ecosystem, they are natural enemies of Godzilla. The female MUTO awakens and emerges in Vegas, where she destroys much of the Strip – including New York-New York (and its replica of the Statue of Liberty), Bally’s, Flamingo and Treasure Island.
When it was released: 2009
Who’s in it: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Woody Harrelson and Danny Glover
Scenes of Sin City destruction to watch for: The Mayans predicted a slew of apocalyptic disasters would beset Earth in the year 2012. In this movie, a large volcanic crater erupts in Yellowstone National Park and releases an ash cloud that begins to engulf everything – even Vegas. While Cusack, who plays Jackson Curtis, tries to get his family out of Sin City on a plane, you’ll see iconic hotels like Wynn Las Vegas and Encore (their towers collapse into one another), The Mirage and Paris Las Vegas (with its half-scale Eiffel Tower) fall apart as the Strip is swallowed up in a giant fissure.
“Resident Evil: Extinction”
When it was released: 2007
Who’s in it: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter and Ashanti
Scenes of Sin City destruction to watch for: In a world teeming with zombies, a group of survivors including Alice (Jovovich), who has superhuman strength and badass telekinetic powers, are constantly on the move. They come to Vegas, which has become a dust bowl, to search for supplies. Of course, they’re confronted by hordes of zombies. Throughout these scenes, the look of Sin City is surreal thanks to a miniature set of the Strip that was built featuring hotels like MGM Grand, Luxor (with its sphinx and obelisk) and New York-New York, among others.
When it was released: 2007
Who’s in it: Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Megan Fox and Tyrese Gibson
Scenes of Sin City destruction to watch for: Hoover Dam was beaten and battered in the first of the “Transformers” movies. But it wasn’t an earthquake that caused the destruction. It was the evil Decepticons. That’s because Hoover Dam not only housed the magical AllSpark, but it was also the site of Area 52 and a clandestine U.S. military group called Sector Seven. They’d recovered the frozen body of Megatron, the leader of the Decepticons, and hid him in the dam for research purposes. Naturally, the unthinkable happens: Starscream and several other Decepticons rescue Megatron…and they all trash the dam.
When it was released: 2005
Who’s in it: Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Jacqueline Bisset, Mena Suvari and Dabney Coleman
Scenes of Sin City destruction to watch for: The Stratosphere Tower is showcased in a pivotal scene in this movie featuring female bounty hunter Domino Harvey (played by Knightley). An FBI helicopter circles the 1,149-foot-tall tower and a wild gun battle ensues. You’ll make out tables in the Top of the World restaurant as glass shatters and several of Domino’s crew are shot. The helicopter ends up crashing in a fiery blaze on the Strip and only Domino is able to make it to the bottom of the tower before explosives are detonated in it.
When it was released: 1997
Who’s in it: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi and Monica Potter
Scenes of Sin City destruction to watch for: At the end of this movie a planeload of the country’s most vicious convicts careens toward McCarran International Airport before descending on the Strip. While Buscemi’s character Garland Greene creepily sings “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” the plane takes off a chunk of the famous Hard Rock Hotel & Casino guitar before passing numerous hotels – many of which are in the wrong geographical order – and smashing into the marquee and casino of the long-gone Sands Hotel & Casino (it’s now The Venetian).
When it was released: 1996
Who’s in it: Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Pierce Brosnan and Danny DeVito
Scenes of Sin City destruction to watch for: “Yikes! They’ve landed!” Martians, that is. In this movie aliens want to destroy Earth. Naturally, Vegas is one of the cities they ravage. You’ll see spaceships shooting lasers at Luxor and the long gone Stardust. The aliens shoot ray guns at the audience in a Tom Jones performance. Best of all, real footage from the 1995 implosion of the historic Landmark hotel was used when the Martians obliterated the fictional Galaxy Hotel.
“Honey, I Blew Up the Kid”
When it was released: 1992
Who’s in it: Rick Moranis, Marcia Strassman, Robert Oliveri, Keri Russell and Lloyd Bridges
Scenes of Sin City destruction to watch for: After a scientist who works at a lab in Vegas accidentally zaps his 2-year-old son Adam, the boy grows to be more than 50 feet tall. Needless to say, he’s a handful. Adam sees the lights of the Strip in the distance and thinks it’s a playground. He causes chaos on Fremont Street in downtown when he stumbles around terrifying tourists. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s big guitar also takes a beating when Adam rips it from the foundation and tries to play it.
“The Amazing Colossal Man”
When it was released: 1957
Who’s in it: Glenn Langan, Cathy Downs and William Hudson
Scenes of Sin City destruction to watch for: Langan plays Lt. Col. Glenn Manning, who grows to ginormous proportions after being exposed to a plutonium bomb. Doctors try to find a cure for him at an army base in the desert, but he goes mad and – like Adam – wanders toward the lights of the Strip. Panic ensues as the “giant man” picks up cars, destroys marquees and wreaks havoc on the former Sands, Silver Slipper and Riviera casinos. He also wrecks the beloved Vegas Vic neon cowboy sign in downtown before heading to…where else? Hoover Dam. Helicopters shoot at Manning and he falls to his death in the Colorado River.