Directed by Robert Luketic, ’21’ is a heist drama film based on the 2003 best-selling book ‘Bringing Down the House’ by Ben Mezrich. The movie centers upon Ben Campbell, an MIT student who is accepted into Harvard Medical School but cannot afford the tuition. His mathematical skills catch the eye of a mathematics professor, Micky Rosa, who invites him to the MIT Blackjack Team. The team regularly flies to Las Vegas and starts raking in money. Life, however, is never that simple when money is involved!
Ben soon starts facing problems due to conflicting lifestyles. His glamorous life in Las Vegas starts affecting him academically. The movie connects the two opposite lifestyles, both visually and narratively. The thrilling scenes and visuals must have made you wonder where the film was shot. We’ve got your back!
21 Filming Locations
The hit movie showcases the sparkling beauty of the gambling capital and the academic atmosphere of Harvard. The production of ’21’ took place in Nevada and Massachusetts, particularly Las Vegas and Boston, in and around March 2007. Here is a deep dive into the exact filming locations!
Las Vegas, Nevada
The majority of the casino scenes in the movie were shot at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas at 3667 South Las Vegas Boulevard. The hotel also served as the filming site of the thrilling chase scene between Cole Williams and the MIT Blackjack Team.
Additional casino scenes were shot at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino at 4455 Paradise Road, the Riviera Hotel & Casino at 2901 Las Vegas Boulevard, and the Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa at 11011 West Charleston Boulevard. According to director Robert Luketic, many LA casinos prohibited the team from filming on their properties as they were against the glamorization of cheating that is depicted in the movie.
Other popular landmarks in the city, such as the Caesars Palace at 3570 South Las Vegas Blvd, the Venetian Hotel at 3355 Las Vegas Blvd South, the McCarran International Airport at 5757 Wayne Newton Boulevard, and the Playboy Club at 4321 West Flamingo Road, also doubled up as shooting sites for the film. The production team also taped a few scenes at the Summerlin Parkway in the western portion of Sin City.
Even though the majority of characters are from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the institute is never shown in the movie. MIT did not allow the filming to take place within its premises. All the scenes, set in MIT, were actually filmed at the Boston University. However, Harvard Medical School, located at 25 Shattuck Street in the Longwood Medical Area, had no such restrictions. Therefore, filming also took place in the medical school.
Furthermore, the high-class grand hotel rooms in Las Vegas were not actually in Vegas. The scenes set in these rooms were shot on sets built in Boston. The scenes featuring the neighborhood of Chinatown were shot on location. The glitzy and bustling neighborhood of Back Bay also served as a shooting site for several scenes in the film. The cast and crew also visited the Christian Science Center on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Huntington Avenue in the Fenway neighborhood to tape a few scenes.
The famous Doyle’s Cafe at 3484 Washington Street in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood also hosted the production of a few scenes. Sadly, the historic Jamaica Plain pub closed its doors in 2019 after 137 years, shocking fans citywide. However, multiple reports suggest that a local developer plans to revamp the legendary pub back to its original glory. The filming of the movie also took place at various other locations, such as Boston Convention & Exposition Center at 415 Summer Street, Great Bay Restaurant at 500 Commonwealth Avenue, Newbury Street, and the Public Garden at Beacon Street at Charles Street.
Apart from the aforementioned locations, portions of ’21’ were also filmed in the city of Chelsea in Suffolk County. The northeastern suburb of Boston is famous for its historic buildings with spectacular architecture. The crew also lensed a few scenes at Cambridge, a Boston suburb located in Middlesex County. A part of the Boston metropolitan area, the city is renowned for its rich art scene — which comprises a variety of ancient and contemporary museums and two top-class universities — Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Read More: Is 21 Movie Based on a True Story?