The Jumbo-Sized Movie Set at Universal Studios

crashed-747-universal-studios-war-of-the-worlds (Image: Daniel Rodríguez Troitiño (website: Ruido Blanco), cc-nc-sa-3.0)

After the protagonist and his kids spend a night hiding in a suburban basement while havoc is wreaked on the world outside, they emerge the next morning to a scene of utter devastation. At its heart are the twisted remains of a downed Jumbo Jet, its guts ripped out and strewn amid shattered houses.

Arguably the most impressive movie set from Steven Spielberg’s 2005 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic War of the Worlds, the wrecked Boeing 747 and surrounding structures are now on public display, viewable to anyone touring Universal Studios in LA.

crashed-747-universal-studios-war-of-the-worlds-2 (Image: s.yume, cc-nc-nd-3.0)

The retired Jumbo, which retains the markings of its previous operator All Nippon Airways, was purchased by the studio and transported from a desert boneyard to Universal at a cost of $2 million USD.

crashed-747-universal-studios-war-of-the-worlds-3 (Image: Roger Schultz (website: Roger Bits), cc-3.0)

The crew then set about creating the scene, which had to look as though the plane had hurtled into suburbia and destroyed part of the neighbourhood in the process.

crashed-747-universal-studios-war-of-the-worlds-4 (Image: Andrew Wippler, cc-3.0)

To achieve the effect, they broke the massive film prop into several sections before cutting away the cabin to reveal seats and other internals. Houses were constructed around the aircraft, while a liberal scattering of smaller items of wreckage completed the scene.

crashed-747-universal-studios-war-of-the-worlds-5 (Image: prayitno, cc-3.0)

The end result: a meticulously designed film set that pulled-off the look of a catastrophic accident. And while this particular aircraft’s fate has been destructive, it has at least escaped the scrap man’s axe – for now.

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