A rundown of Hollywood's prior visits to the Inland Northwest

Spokane may not be Hollywood, but Dreamin' Wild is hardly Spokane's first big-screen venture. The film industry has visited our region several times over the years to take advantage of our parks, historic downtown buildings and outdoor splendor. Here's a rundown of some prominent feature films using the Inland Northwest as a backdrop — from whimsical fantasies to historical dramas to bloody horror.


This underdog sports story, starring Matthew Modine as a teen wrestling phenom and Linda Fiorentino as the drifter who falls for him, features some great shots of 1980s downtown, as well as scenes set in Rogers, Shadle and Ferris high schools. It's also got Madonna performing her No. 1 hit "Crazy for You" at the Bigfoot Tavern on North Division. Streaming on Roku and Tubi

ALWAYS (1989)

Steven Spielberg used Eastern Washington towns Ephrata and Sprague, as well as the forests of the Idaho Panhandle, as magical settings for his remake of the 1943 fable A Guy Named Joe. Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter and John Goodman star, and the legendary Audrey Hepburn makes her final film appearance. Digital rental

TOYS (1992)

Yes, this cloying fantasy starring Robin Williams as a man-child saving his late father's toy factory is... awful. But in between the scenes filmed on candy-colored soundstages is gorgeous and eye-catching outdoor footage filmed near the Palouse, most notably in the golden wheat fields of Rosalia. Streaming on Starz

BENNY & JOON (1993)

It's arguably the definitive Spokane movie, essentially functioning as a tour of distinctive Inland Northwest locations: Peaceful Valley, Riverfront Park, Ferguson's Cafe and Mary Lou's Milk Bottle, all as they looked 30 years ago. Johnny Depp, Aidan Quinn and Mary Stuart Masterson were the marquee names, but there's also early work from future stars like Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and C.C.H. Pounder. Streaming on Amazon Prime, Hoopla, Kanopy, Tubi and Pluto TV


The first wide-release feature film made by a predominantly Native American cast and crew, this adaptation of a Sherman Alexie short story was filmed in downtown Spokane and on the Coeur d'Alene Reservation. It has since been preserved by the Library of Congress for its historical and cultural significance. Streaming on Paramount+, Hoopla and Pluto TV


Set during World War I, this is the family-friendly story of German orphans who are transplanted to the Pacific Northwest and an inspiring schoolteacher (Peter Coyote) who introduces his small town to basketball. Directed by North by Northwest's Rich Cowan, the film focused on the visual splendor of the region, with plenty of golden-hour shots of the landscape. Streaming on Amazon Prime, Roku, and Tubi


From the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Rain Man, this romantic drama stars Josh Hartnett and Radha Mitchell as autistic adults who fall in love. Whether or not that casting would fly today, the film features the Gonzaga University campus, the Cat Tales wildlife preserve, and a fantasy scene set in the main atrium of River Park Square. Streaming on Hoopla


Spokane was again in the spotlight with this George W. Bush-era drama, directed by regular Martin Scorsese collaborator Irwin Winkler, about soldiers returning from the Iraq War and re-adjusting to society. Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel, Christina Ricci and 50 Cent star. Streaming on Roku, Hoopla, Tubi and Pluto TV

THE WARD (2010)

When he made the twisty ghost story The Ward, horror master John Carpenter hadn't directed a movie in a decade. He hasn't made one since. The film was shot primarily at Eastern State Hospital, and while it didn't receive a wide release in the U.S., reviews praised the atmosphere of its setting. Digital rental


LARPers go up against actual hellspawn in this goofy, gory action-comedy with an all-star, nerd-approved cast: Steve Zahn, Ryan Kwanten, Summer Glau, Danny Pudi and Peter Dinklage. The movie, shot in Spokane's Riverside State Park, is infamous for its post-production troubles, and director Joe Lynch is still trying to release his preferred cut. Streaming on Amazon Prime, Tubi and Pluto TV

BOON (2022)

A sequel to 2021's Red Stone, this noirish thriller stars Neal McDonough as a retired hitman who jumps back into action to protect a woman and her young son from a crime syndicate. Shot in and around Spokane during the pandemic lockdown, it's the kind of movie your dad might love. Streaming on Peacock, Kanopy, Roku, Hoopla and Tubi

Expo '74: Films from the Vault @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through Sept. 8
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Nathan Weinbender

Nathan Weinbender is the former music and film editor of the Inlander. He is also a film critic for Spokane Public Radio, where he has co-hosted the weekly film review show Movies 101 since 2011.