Space Cadet (2024): Where Was the Amazon Prime Movie Filmed?

Amazon Prime’s romantic comedy, ‘Space Cadet,’ stars lead actress and executive producer Emma Roberts in the role of Rex Simpson, a lively and free-spirited party girl. The film, written and directed by Liz W. Garcia, narrates the story of Rex’s unexpected journey of self-discovery when she suddenly finds herself selected for an astronaut training program by NASA. Although Rex lacks the qualifications and experience of her fellow candidates, her confident blend of wit, heart, and determination sets her apart, ultimately prompting her to find alternative ways to achieve her goals.

Rex is supported throughout her adventure by her friend Nadine (Poppy Liu), who writes fake accomplishments in her friend’s resume to impress NASA and receives guidance from NASA directors Pam Proctor (Gabrielle Union) and Logan O’Leary (Tom Hopper). Together, they accompany her in this feel-good affair as she pursues her childhood dream of traveling to space. The film effectively depicts both the figurative and literal race to breach the sky, requiring Garcia and her team to creatively blend stunning visuals with the narrative, a task they achieved by visiting various filming locations.

Space Cadet Filming Locations

Most of the plot in ‘Space Cadet’ is set against the backdrop of Florida, with Emma Roberts’ character, Rex, partying on Cocoa Beach and later training at the Kennedy Space Center. She also receives her lucky break at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. However, despite being central to the story, these locations were not physically visited during filming. Instead, New Jersey and specialized areas of Alabama served as the primary filming sites, effectively doubling for the mentioned locations. Principal photography commenced in late August 2022, extended through the fall, and concluded on November 7.

Monmouth County, New Jersey

Monmouth County in New Jersey played a pivotal role in the production of ‘Space Cadet,’ particularly in scenes portraying the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Bell Works, the 101 Crawfords Corner Road business center in Holmdel Township, stood in for NASA’s iconic facility. In late September, casting sessions sought child actresses for flashbacks involving Rex and her mother. Various Jersey Shore sites around Union Beach were utilized to portray Florida’s Cocoa Beach. Additional locations included The Rock Cafe at 522 Amboy Road in Keyport.

A spooky 19th-century house located at 226 Main Street in Matawan is also featured in the film. Known locally as “Big Blue House” and “Ryer House,” this beloved landmark has seen residents petitioning for its preservation amidst demolition threats. The banquet hall, Shore Casino, at 1 Simon Lake Drive in Atlantic Highlands, was also visited by the production team for several shots to recreate Cocoa Beach’s Marriott Bonvoy. Additionally, filming extended to JakeaBob’s Bay bar at 525 Front Street in Union Beach, where Rex works before advancing to the Kennedy Space Center.

Essex County, New Jersey

Essex County in New Jersey, located about 50 miles from Monmouth County, also significantly contributed to the filming of ‘Space Cadet.’ The lobby and runway of Essex County Airport in Fairfield were transformed into Florida’s Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. At 471 Cortlandt Street in Belleville, Signature Fitness served as the fictional Muscle Explosion Gym, where Rex and Nadine discuss Rex’s admission.

Jon Crowley, executive director of the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission, highlighted the film’s economic impact, noting the excitement and buzz Emma Roberts generated among the local community during the shoots. According to Crowley, the ‘Space Cadet’ production spent nearly $14 million in the state, creating numerous employment opportunities.

Huntsville, Alabama

After completing the primary schedule in New Jersey, the ‘Space Cadet’ team headed south to Alabama in late October for some of its most crucial sequences. Located at 1 Tranquility Base in Huntsville, Madison County, the US Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) emerges as a key attraction featured in the Emma Roberts movie. Serving as a stand-in for the Johnson Space Center, the USSRC plays a prominent role in the film’s conclusive moments, with characters traversing its expansive campus and the iconic rocket serving as a backdrop in multiple frames.

In addition to the astronaut training that Rex and other characters undergo, Space Camp’s resources and doorways are featured prominently in the movie. The cast members accessed the Multiple Axis Space Test Inertia Facility, highlighting the authenticity brought to the film’s portrayal of space exploration. While not directly impacting the plot, the USSRC’s historical significance enriches the film’s atmosphere, complementing the protagonist’s growth.

Roberts’ immersive astronaut training experience also involved entering the center’s Intuitive Planetarium and iconic Saturn V launch vehicle. A scene was recorded inside the underwater astronaut trainer tank while the cast and crew interacted with Space Camp alumni to gain more insights. Thus, besides its cinematic contributions, the renowned research facility also turned out to be an educational experience for the cast and crew of ‘Space Cadet.’

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