The blockbuster movie that was actually filmed in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano on the silver screen.

It doesn’t take a geography expert to know “Jurassic Park” wasn’t filmed in Costa Rica. San José, after all, isn’t a dusty beachside town.

One recent blockbuster movie actually did film in Costa Rica, though it’s not quite as iconic as Steven Spielberg’s mega-hit. Allow me to introduce you to “After Earth.”

Recognize that volcano at the 40-second mark? That’s Volcán Arenal, Costa Rica’s iconic stratovolcano and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country:

In the movie, Kitai (Jaden Smith) tries to survive on a planet Earth that has evolved to kill humans. In real life, well, things weren’t much different.

While Costa Rica’s wildlife isn’t quite as deadly as depicted in the post-apocalyptic movie, Will Smith, Jaden Smith and the rest of the cast and crew had their own adventures when filming in Costa Rica.

“You know, there’s a lot of snakes, and I found a four-inch cockroach in my bed the other night,” said Jaden Smith.

The production contracted wildlife experts — including four snake wranglers — to scout each location and clear it of potential dangers before the cast arrived. But they didn’t always catch everything.

“It kind of scares you, because you didn’t know how close you were,” said actor Caleeb Pinkett, recalling an incident when a snake handler found a jumping pit viper in the tree next to him.

“I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me!? I could’ve died! Like, that close to death and had no idea.”

The movie was released in May 2013, and it grossed more than $243 million worldwide. But critics panned “After Earth,” and its 11% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes describes the picture as a “dull, ploddingly paced exercise in sentimental sci-fi.”

But that was no fault of Costa Rica’s.

“Costa Rica just gives the film a very eerie size and scope,” said Will Smith.

And you don’t even have to wait until earth becomes a barren wasteland to experience Costa Rica for yourself.


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