The 6 Most Iconic Warehouse Scenes In Movies
In most people’s eyes, the common warehouse isn’t the most exciting of places. For directors, however, the endless shelves and industrial ambiance are the key to great drama. Trawl through your memory banks and you’ll find dozens of examples of films, TV shows and other media that use a warehouse as a staging post, most often for a climactic fight – and often involving a bit of heavy equipment.
To celebrate the art of the humble warehouse, we’re taking a look at eight of our favourite films to feature a memorable warehouse scene. They’re not exactly shining examples of efficient warehouse storage – though a few could use some blast & fire protection – but they do make our jobs feel a little more exciting. Who knows, maybe some jobs in movie set design beckon?
Raiders of the Lost Ark / Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
When it comes to warehouse scenes in movies, the Indiana Jones franchise is surely the pièce de résistance (or should that be the Ark de Triomphe?). While we only catch a fleeting glimpse of the warehouse in Raiders of the Lost Ark, it leaves an impression; the obscenely large space is designed to communicate to the viewer that the Ark (in one of a thousand brown crates) may never be found again.
Of course, it also sets up a potential sequel, which would come to pass in 2008. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull would give us a more prolonged look at this secret warehouse, as Soviet agents infiltrate the space and force our hero to locate a mysterious, magnetic mummy. Indy escapes with a bit of derring-do and some help from a rocket-powered sled – but not before we catch a cheeky glimpse of the Ark, spilling out of its smashed-up box.
While there’s an argument to include the steel mill from Terminator 2 – home of the flaming ‘thumbs up’ – we’re going with the iconic original. The climax of this relentless, ingenious action film is a nightmarish chase scene, where Arnie’s Terminator reveals his red-eyed, mechanical skeleton. Some fantastic stop-motion animation sees the Terminator lurching after our heroes into a warehouse full of generic factory equipment.
The industrial setting provides both a great atmosphere and a perfect excuse to – spoiler warning! – finish the Terminator off. After one unsuccessful attempt using a pipe bomb, Sarah Connor escapes from the crawling carcass through a hydraulic press, before crushing the Terminator into scrap. Most of it, anyway; its arm survives, and will be used to reverse engineer the technology for Skynet – the AI that will end the world (and put us out of a job).
As a budget superhero movie that also involves raiding several baddies’ hideouts, Kick-Ass features a fair few warehouses. The first one we encounter is from the perspective of a security camera, as wannabee villain Red Mist and his cronies marvel at Big Daddy (a typically unhinged Nic Cage). The vigilante superhero is recorded rampaging through a warehouse full of goons, engaging in some violent splatter before burning the building to the ground. We like to think our passive and active fire protection would have helped with that.
The second warehouse scene in the film is a much more dismal affair. Having been captured by the villain, Big Daddy and Kick-Ass himself are tied up and tortured on an internet livestream, preceded by a promise that Kick-Ass’ identity will finally be revealed. The foul-mouthed, gun-toting Hit-Girl arrives to save the day, but not before Big Daddy is mortally wounded – giving our heroes the resolve to raid the baddy’s hideout, and put their skills to the ultimate test.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Order of the Phoenix may not be the best Harry Potter film, or the most climactic, but it’s the point at which the story really ramps up. After four films of school drama and relatively minor hijinks, the Goblet of Fire ends with a major character death, and things only get more bleak from there. As well as featuring the debut of Dolores Umbridge – everyone’s favourite sadistic professor – OotP is also the beginning of Voldemort’s return to power.
Compared to the rest of the film, the scene in the Department of Mysteries is a light romp. This mammoth magical warehouse is home to all sorts of oddities (the book features a room of brains in jars), but is mostly represented on screen by mile-high shelves of glass baubles. Confronted by Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange, Harry and the gang manage to escape with some well-timed spellcasting – but not before the hundreds of shelves all come crashing down.
As the historic home of American industry, Detroit was a perfect backdrop for the grim metropolis in RoboCop. This fallen giant has descended into a crime-ridden wasteland by the time of the film, in which a pair of police officers are pursuing a gang. The beginning of the film details their efforts to raid a steel mill – warehouse number one – and the ultimate death of our main character, Officer Alex Murphy.
In true dystopian fashion, Murphy is revived as a horrific cyborg monstrosity, welding his face and brain to a calculated killing machine. RoboCop acts on a series of moral directives, but his humanity begins to emerge, as memories of his death and family come to the surface. Raiding yet another warehouse (this time a makeshift drug factory), RoboCop interrogates the gang leader only to find that he’s in cahoots with his boss, who his directives prevent him from arresting. Thankfully, a convenient plot contrivance – think Donald Trump or Alan Sugar – soon fixes that problem.
We may be stretching a point with this one, but how could we leave it out? Like many of the movies on this list, the warehouse in Monsters, Inc is the setting for a climactic battle, providing both an enormous storage space to navigate and a bunch of moving obstacles. When a child known as ‘Boo’ ends up in the monster world, Mike and Sully are tasked with returning her amid a citywide manhunt. Pursued through the Monsters, Inc facility by arch-rival Randall, they end up in the storage area for its many magic doors – portals into the bedrooms of children.
Catapulting through the enormous space on the machines that carry the doors, they arrive at a dead end, with Randall in hot pursuit. Taking a door-based detour through Hawaii, France and Japan, they eventually arrive back at the facility in a position to reach Boo’s bedroom. A fight ensues, during which Boo – hitherto scared of Randall – emerges the ultimate victor. She ultimately returns to her bedroom and world, and her door at Monsters Inc is retired from use – though perhaps not lost forever.