In the Spotlight: Big Screen Moments Filmed at Rockefeller Center
New York City could have its own IMDB page for the innumerable times it’s played an integral character in film and television. Carrie Bradshaw would have nowhere to trot around in her Manolo Blahniks while holding a shopping bag from Manolo Blahnik. Macaulay Culkin could get lost in any city, but none would be as iconic. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan wouldn’t have fallen as deeply in love without the presence of the Concrete Jungle. And Will Ferrell as Buddy wouldn’t have experienced quite as much Christmas magic without a turn around The Rink in Elf.
It’s true, the city has earned its position as the ultimate backdrop — but there are only about a handful of landmarks that truly nail the “New York moment.” Rockefeller Center is at the top of that list, with several noteworthy settings housed in a two-block radius. Its many angles, marquees, and unparalleled views have become so synonymous with Manhattan; it’s impossible to think of one without the other.
Even certain scenes at the Center conjure specific feelings or connotations: When you see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree or skaters at The Rink, you’re immediately transported to Christmas in New York. Street-level views of Rockefeller Plaza and the various NBC marquees evoke the quintessence of television history, including SNL, 30 Rock, and The Tonight Show. Top of the Rock and its panoramic views give the ultimate bird’s-eye view of the entire city, like the opening of any epic New York story.
Below, we’re taking a look at some of the recent productions that have been filmed at Rockefeller Center.
2021 Golden Globes — The Rainbow Room
At the height of the pandemic, NBC staged a new format of the Golden Globes ceremony in the legendary Rainbow Room. The production captured an elegance typical of the lavish, Champagne-flowing event as only the famed restaurant space in the sky could. While there weren’t any in-person nominees and the acceptance speeches were over Zoom, Tina Fey presented live from the Rainbow Room — with her counterpart, Amy Poehler, joining in real-time from Los Angeles.
Marry Me — 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 50th Street Entrance
J.Lo. The Tonight Show. 30 Rock. Need we say more? The superstar makes a grand exit from the NBC Studios entrance on 50th Street and… well, just watch and see.
Empire — The Channel Gardens
Attempting to compete with the visual feast that is Taraji P. Henson’s Cookie Lyon is a tall order — but not one that the Channel Gardens at the 5th Avenue entrance to Rockefeller Plaza isn’t up for. The lush backdrop is fit for a queen like Cookie, after all.
Marvel’s Hawkeye — 30 Rockefeller Plaza & The Rink
As we’ve learned by now, superheroes fly through New York City like it’s their own personal playground (watch any of the Avengers movies). So naturally, Marvel’s Hawkeye slung his bow and arrow onto The Rink in 30 Rock Plaza in his highly-buzzed series — at Christmastime, no less. As you might expect, the Christmas Tree does make an appearance… But you’ll have to watch to see what happens when the Tree becomes the star of the show.
Respect — 30 Rockefeller Plaza Lobby
WIth its transported-from-another-era motifs, the 30 Rock lobby set the perfect stage for Jennifer Hudson’s groundbreaking portrayal of Aretha Franklin in the biopic Respect. The lacquered floors and art deco details take audiences back in time to the beginning of Franklin’s career, charting how she came to be known as the Queen of Soul.
Billions — Top of the Rock
A show dealing with such grand assets and power needs a view, and they got it filming at Top of the Rock. The metaphor of being able to see everything one owns (or wants to own) is not lost here.
The Killers perform on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon — Top of the Rock
It was an unforgettable way to welcome back live shows and performances in the fall of 2021. The Killers performed their 2007 Grammy-nominated hit “When You Were Young” at Top of the Rock with all of New York City in the background.
Project Runway — 620 Loft & Garden
Famous for staging fashion shows in the most unconventional, awe-inspiring settings around New York for nearly 20 years, Project Runway naturally made its way to the 620 Loft & Garden overlooking St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Between the florals and the architecture, could a designer ask for more inspiration?
Keep your eyes peeled for the Rockefeller Center campus in television, films, and photoshoots over the next year. We’ll share more updates once they're live, but for now, we have to keep a few secrets…
Rockefeller Center has a variety of settings and architecture for movies, televisions shows, and photoshoots. Find out more about Rockefeller Center film and photo locations here.