Ever since the modern casino came into being, they have been used as settings and plot elements in films. Cities like Vegas, which has been an entertainment hub since the Rat Pack days, are also very popular in film. When filmmakers visit Vegas to shoot, its neon casinos are usually the first stop. Here are three good reasons why film, and other media, love shooting in and around casinos.
They Look Good
Let’s start with the most obvious reasons – casinos look good. If you want a glitzy establishing shot or a sweeping, carpeted setting for a scene, casinos have you covered. Because of how great they look, they’re a natural choice for filming scenes. If those scenes require a sense of glamor, even better.
It isn’t just the casino palaces of the Vegas Strip that look good. iGaming websites are some of the best-designed out there in terms of both UI and color scheme/branding. Then the games on them have different themes and are pleasant to look at. Others offer the live casino gaming experience, where a real presenter broadcasts a game of blackjack or roulette to thousands online, creating an interactive experience that can be enjoyed from afar.
But you can’t shoot a film inside a website, so while online alternatives are becoming more popular, it’s the Caesars Palaces or the Monte Carlos of the world that feature in box office blockbusters.
They Are Genre Neutral
Casinos come packed with a lot of ideas and presumptions. As we said, the average casino will typically be the most glamorous joint on the whole block. Even in cities that aren’t Vegas, they’ll rank best for interior decoration compared to most businesses in the area. Those unique interiors can be used for a variety of genres.
While you get Bond movies and other action capers that take place in casinos, you also get comedy movies like The Hangover. The same can be said for romances in movies and TV, which have partly used scenes in casinos. The casino, as a setting, doesn’t mandate what genre of movie can film there.
It’s more difficult to do this in other settings, like a spooky, abandoned mansion for example. Think The Winchester House, which has been used for supernatural movies since the 1960s. With it comes the ghost story of Sarah Winchester and the uneasy, incomprehensible way she built the home. Similar rundown locations can’t be easily used as settings for light-hearted comedies. It’s entirely possible to set a horror in a casino, however, and it has been done before. If you pull the power and make a casino floor dark, its prestigious and glamorous décor can look antiquated and scary instead.
We Understand Them Thematically
You don’t need to be a pro at every casino game to understand what casinos are about. Even if nobody plays a casino game in the whole movie, casinos tend to be picked because having them as a setting can come with subtext. Put simply, we associate casinos with luck and fortune, good or bad.
While a plot deals with the internal conflicts and struggles of its characters, the setting can enhance or contrast those feelings. The classic example is the weather, sunny when a character is happy, and stormy when they’re upset. When emotions are applied to settings like this, it’s called pathetic fallacy. It’s a trope that goes back to the oldest poets. Movies often use casinos to externalize the tension that is inherent in most plots. Whether it’s an action caper or a last-minute romantic gesture, a casino setting can make it more obvious that the characters are at the mercy of chance