Lacing Up Our Skates and Rolling Out to the L.A. Filming Locations of Xanadu

Lacing Up Our Skates and Rolling Out to the L.A. Filming Locations of Xanadu

Until recently, 1980's Xanadu was a film I tended to avoid. I wasn't born until two months after the film was released and the DVD cover of a gazing Olivia Newton-John never leapt off the shelf at me. Honestly, I didn't really know much about the film other than it starred Newton-John hot on the heels of Grease stardom, it involved rollerskating and featured songs by ELO.

A couple of weeks ago, out of curiosity, I gave in to Newton-John's angelic stare from a library shelf and popped the overplayed disc into my DVD player, not exactly sure what I would see over the next hour and 36 minutes. Though there are some rough visual effects shots and a couple of wooden performances — both of which helped elevate Xanadu to cult status over the years — perhaps the thing that stayed with me most, other than the film's most memorable and hummable song, "Magic," was how much of an L.A. film it is. Xanadu is a wildly creative mashup of studio soundstages and practical locations that intertwine, not unlike the way the film combines multiple musical genres and various eras of the movie musical.

Thirty-seven years later, many of the film's locations can still be found around town, though some may go unrecognized.

Thanks to NBCUniversal director of archives and collections Jeff Pirtle, Xanadu's first assistant director Dan Kolsrud, second assistant director Venita Ozols-Graham and Burbank historian Mike McDaniel for helping us pinpoint some of the film's locations.

Please keep in mind that a number of these locations are on private property. Do not trespass or disturb the owners.

All photos by Jared Cowan except where noted. Follow Jared on Twitter at @JaredCowan1.


Until recently, 1980's Xanadu was a film I tended to avoid. I wasn't born until two months after the film was released and the DVD cover of a gazing Olivia Newton-John never leapt off the shelf at me. Honestly, I didn't really know much about the film other than it starred Newton-John hot on the heels of Grease stardom, it involved rollerskating and featured songs by ELO.

A couple of weeks ago, out of curiosity, I gave in to Newton-John's angelic stare from a library shelf and popped the overplayed disc into my DVD player, not exactly sure what I would see over the next hour and 36 minutes. Though there are some rough visual effects shots and a couple of wooden performances — both of which helped elevate Xanadu to cult status over the years — perhaps the thing that stayed with me most, other than the film's most memorable and hummable song, "Magic," was how much of an L.A. film it is. Xanadu is a wildly creative mashup of studio soundstages and practical locations that intertwine, not unlike the way the film combines multiple musical genres and various eras of the movie musical.

Thirty-seven years later, many of the film's locations can still be found around town, though some may go unrecognized.

Thanks to NBCUniversal director of archives and collections Jeff Pirtle, Xanadu's first assistant director Dan Kolsrud, second assistant director Venita Ozols-Graham and Burbank historian Mike McDaniel for helping us pinpoint some of the film's locations.

Please keep in mind that a number of these locations are on private property. Do not trespass or disturb the owners.

All photos by Jared Cowan except where noted. Follow Jared on Twitter at @JaredCowan1.
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