New York Film Locations

In The Heights Film Locations

5 April 2023

With otsoNY now back with regular updates, this month sees the musical drama film “In The Heights” go under the microscope for the all important film locations. Directed by Jon M. Chu from a screenplay by Quiara Alegría Hudes and based on the stage musical of the same name by Hudes and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the film stars Anthony Ramos, Corey Hawkins, Leslie Grace in her film debut, Melissa Barrera, Olga Merediz, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, and Jimmy Smits. The film follows a similar plot to the musical, telling the story of a corner in the predominantly Dominican Washington Heights neighbourhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City, where every member of the community pursues their little dreams for a better life.

Film Poster for In The Heights

The film was originally set to be adapted by Universal Pictures in 2008, with Kenny Ortega hired to direct. After that version fell through, the project was eventually started back up in 2016, with Chu set to direct and Ramos being cast in October 2018. The rest of the cast joined in April 2019, and filming took place around New York City that summer. Originally intended to be released in 2020, “In The Heights” was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival on 4th June 2021, and was released in the United States on 10th June in cinemas and streaming on HBO Max under a 30-day simultaneous exhibition window. It was widely praised for Chu’s direction, the performances, and musical numbers, though a box-office bomb, grossing just $45 million against its $55 million production budget and $200 million break-even point.

Scene from In The Heights

The bulk of filming was done at the intersection of 175th Street and Audubon Avenue, where STO Domingo Grocery Inc. was used as the exterior of the bodega. The musical number “96,000” was filmed at the Highbridge Pool featuring synchronised swimming and shot over two days with 500 extras. Christopher Scott, who had worked with Jon M. Chu on the YouTube series “The LXD” as well as the films “Step Up Revolution” and “Step Up All In”, served as choreographer. “Paciencia y Fe” was shot in the abandoned lower level of the Brooklyn Ninth Avenue station, which had previously been used in the film “Joker”, with the ‘Joker Stairs’ also being used as a filming location. The team had wanted to film the sequence inside the New York Transit Museum but could not as they were only allowed to use the space for the one day the museum is closed to the public. However, they were able to rent vintage subway cars from the museum for use in the number. The tunnel sequence at the end of the song was shot in the pedestrian tunnel at the 191st Street station. As the tunnel is a public access point for the station, the team was only given permission to close it for filming at night. The lights, which were rigged during the day while the tunnel was open, were initially designed to display a rainbow of light, but at the last second Chu had them changed to red, white, and blue; the colours of the Cuban, Puerto Rican, and American flags.

Leslie Grace

Newcomer Leslie Grace, star of “In The Heights” is best known for her work as a singer, having received three Latin Grammy Award nominations. She recorded and released an independent Christian music album in partnership with CD Baby while in middle school. Her mainstream debut came with “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”, a bilingual cover of the 1961 Shirelles hit. Her bachata-tinged rendition peaked at number one on both the Billboard Tropical Songs chart and Billboard Latin Airplay charts, making her the youngest female artist to do so. Her self-titled second studio album, “Leslie Grace”, reached number four on the Billboard Latin Albums chart, and number three on the Billboard Tropical Albums chart.

Leslie Grace

Among her nominations are Best Contemporary Tropical Album at the 14th Annual Latin Grammy Awards in which she sang along with the Zarkana cast of Cirque du Soleil, Female Tropical Artist of the Year and Tropical Album of the Year at the 26th Premio Lo Nuestro. In 2014, she also obtained nominations in the Billboard Awards in the categories of New Artist of the Year and Hot Latin Songs, Artist of the Year, Female.

Among her tours abroad is her presentation on the Caribbean island of Curaçao at the North Sea Jazz Festival, and the tour of the United States with the musical director Rayner Marrero and several bachata musicians in 2013. She also performed on Sábado Gigante with Don Francisco, and at the Chile Telethon and at the closing of the same at the National Stadium of Chile, where she sang in front of approximately 60,000 people.

Leslie Grace

In mid-2016, she participated as captain of the Univision reality show Va por ti with Luis Coronel, Chiquis Rivera and the host Galilea Montijo. After releasing the single “Aire” with Maluma, they made a tour of 14 concerts through Mexico. In the same year she released the single “Nada de amor”. In January 2017, she collaborated with the duo Play-N-Skillz, Wisin and Frankie J in the reggaeton-style cover of Selena’s song, “Si una vez”. And in February of the same year she was nominated for the Premios Lo Nuestro in the category Female Artist of the Year – Pop / Rock.

In April 2019, it was announced that Grace would be starring as Nina Rosario in the 2021 film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical “In the Heights”. Grace received praise from critics including David Ehrlich from IndieWire who wrote ‘that she shined in the role’. K. Austin Collins of Rolling Stone wrote, ‘Its highest accomplishment is that it succeeds as the star vehicle Hollywood seemed to demand’. In July 2021, Grace was cast as Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in HBO Max’s “Batgirl”. Though in August 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery cancelled plans to release the film, which was nearing completion.


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