While not exactly an everyday occurrence, films such as the Rocky series, Invincible and 12 Monkeys have seasoned the residents of the city of Philadelphia proper to Hollywood productions using their streets for location filming. It is a far less normal occurrence in many of the suburban communities surrounding the city, so the current production of director Peter Jackson’s current film The Lovely Bones has caused somewhat of a stir in the communities it is using as a backdrop.

Based on a novel by Alice Sebold and set in the Philadelphia suburb of Norristown during the 1970s, The Lovely Bones tells the story of a 14-year old girl who is abducted and murdered and who watches the effect this has on her family from a vantage point in the afterlife. Although based in New Zealand, Jackson and crew traveled halfway around the globe in order to shoot in the same general area where Sebold herself grew up and based her story. (And a good thing too. Jackson previously shot the United States-set Michael J. Fox horror comedy The Frighteners in New Zealand and the location work showed it.)

So far, the production has been spotted working in the towns of Hatfield, Chester Springs, Valley Forge National Park, Coatesville and Royersford. But the one site that has seen the most coverage is the Malvern neighborhood being used for the location of the murdered girl’s family’s home.

Below are photos taken earlier today of the Malvern Township location. (Click on each photo for a much bigger view.) There had been filming at this suburban neighborhood a few weeks ago, before the production moved on to other locations. It now appears as if the production will be spending at least a portion of their remaining two weeks of location work (with this Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving) back here. In December, the cast and crew will return to New Zealand to shoot the remainder of the film on standard soundstage sets at Jackson’s studio.

As I walked the streets of the neighborhood, production trucks lined two of the streets.



Next to the sidewalks lay numerous heavily insulated wires, some ending in junction boxes. I’m surmising that they are there for filming sometime in the next few days.

Here are the two houses that have been used in the production. The second picture is a reverse angle of the home with the basketball hoop over the garage door. Note that the two houses’ driveways are filled with early to mid-1970s vehicles.



In the background of this shot below, you can just make out the white roof of the red Mustang convertable that Mark Wahlberg’s character drives. Along the street are parked several period cars.




Stationed a house or two up the street from the two homes is one of two cranes that contain lighting units. The second is parked on a side street half a block away.



A makeshift sign nearby points the way to the production’s basecamp for this location shoot.


There, in addition to several more white production trucks, are several 1970s-era State Police cruisers.


Those who have listened to Peter Jackson’s audio commentaries know how much attention to small detail is important to him when it comes to his films. You may never see it on screen, but each of the State Police cruisers have authenticate looking inspection stickers with April 1974 expiration dates on them.


Avatar für Rich Drees
About Rich Drees 7219 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
November 24, 2007 9:55 pm

It’s a 14-year-old girl who is murdered, not 12.

November 25, 2007 11:37 am

Valley Forge is a National Park not a State Park

November 25, 2007 11:59 pm

Insert absurdly nitpicky comment here.

April 7, 2008 9:49 pm

Malvern is the neighboring borough, not the township. Willistown is actually the township in which the filming took place. Thought I’d add another absurd comment.

March 29, 2017 1:30 pm

Attention to detail? Those aren’t Pennsylvania State Police cars.