When wealthy socialites are looking for an extravagant setting for a party or movie producers need a compelling and unique location for a major movie, they turn to Paul Kim, CEO of Image Locations. In our new reality series Mansion Hunters, we are treated to an inside look at the high-stakes, high-pressure game of elite property rental scouting and management as Kim and his team of driven associates navigate the shark-infested waters of L.A. in an effort to please their demanding clients.
As successful as Image Locations might be, we have to admit that even the savvy CEO himself might have a tough time meeting the needs of, say, a drug-fueled kingpin, the alien queen of an entire planet, a boy billionaire, or a driven superhero on a quest for vengeance. Then again, you just never know what Kim can accomplish when he sets his mind to it. Mark your calendar or set an alert for July 9th to watch the premiere of Mansion Hunters and then check out our list of the outrageous and fantastical movie mansions we love the most.Locations, Locations, Locations
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As grand and extravagant as any of the movie mansions on this list, what makes Wayne Manor special is not the building's architecture or the estate's grounds — filmed at Rothschild estate, Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, England, which also served as the exterior of the "orgy palace" in Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999) — but what lies beneath the mansion: an expansive series of caves and tunnels that would be converted into the crime-fighting lair of Batman (Christian Bale). Accidentally discovered by Wayne in his youth, the vengeful billionaire poured his vast fortune into converting the subterranean sanctum into a high-tech base of operations for his one-man war against crime and injustice, complete with computer work stations, a medical facility, a crime lab, a mechanic garage and a hangar.
The lavish estate of mysterious business magnate Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the perfect place to throw opulent parties populated by strangers where a wealthy recluse can feel alone in a crowd. Chiefly inspired by Otto Hermann Kahn's Oheka Castle, the second-largest private residence in America when it was built in 1919 — the 127-room estate included gardens, tennis courts, a golf course, indoor pool and private airstrip — Gatsby's mansion was also influenced by La Selva Mansion and Beacon Towers, both located on Long Island, with an ample helping of Art Deco thrown in for good measure.
Tony Montana's MansionScarface (1983)
Though Miami is nearly as important a character as Tony Montana (Al Pacino) himself in Brian De Palma's magnum opus, the mansion that served as the drug lord's compound is actually located in Santa Barbara, CA. Recently put on the market for $35 million by its Russian owner, the Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue-designed El Fureidis (loosely translated as "Pleasure Gardens" or "Little Paradise") estate is a 9,800 square foot Roman-inspired home with four bedrooms and nine bathrooms ringed by palm trees and aqua pools. The estate has hosted such notable personalities as Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein.
The magnificent Royal Palace of Queen Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman) of Naboo evokes the Baroque style of art and architecture characteristic of royal residences in Europe and with good reason: while the exterior is all CGI, many of the interior scenes were filmed at the Royal Palace of Caserta in Italy. Even the residence of the Bourbon kings of Naples can't compete with Amidala's home, however, considering the vast palace grounds also include Theed Hanger, which houses Naboo's N-1 starfighter fleet, and the monarch's Royal starships.
They may be feared and hated by the world at large, but at least the mutant members of the X-Men get to hide out in luxury, courtesy of Charles Xavier's (Sir Patrick Stewart) grand Westchester County, New York, estate. With palm trees carefully hidden from the camera lens, Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills is the actual filming location for the original movie in the Fox franchise, a 55-room, Tudor-style home designed by SoCal architect Gordon B. Kaufmann that is now a park owned by the city. Marvel's Merry Mutants aren't the only ones to walk, crawl and fly through the halls of Greystone, however, as Batman (Batman & Robin), Spider-Man (Spider-Man), the Phantom (The Phantom) and Green Arrow (CW's Arrow) are all part of the estate's film history.
Boy Billionaire's Building
Richie Rich (1994)
Most of us would give anything to live in a magnificent mansion like the one Richard "Richie" Rich (Macauley Culkin) lives in, a sprawling château-esque compound with 179 thousand square feet of floor space and 250 rooms, but even with his very own roller coaster in the backyard and "dadlink" technology that pre-dates GPS, "the richest kid in the world" really only wants what most kids his age want — friends. Though the movie is set in Chicago, the house and grounds of the boy billionaire's home are actually located in Asheville, North Carolina. Built by George Washington Vanderbilt II between 1889 and 1895, the Biltmore Estate is the largest privately owned home in the United States and remains in the Vanderbilt family.
Images courtesy Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, and Twentieth Century Fox.