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Xtek Presents…Steel Mills Go to the Movies

Screenshot from Terminator 2
Scene from Terminator 2: Judgement Day. Image courtesy of

We think the sights, sounds, and overall atmosphere of a steel mill are pretty cool. But that would not be surprising, since we are an industry-leading manufacturer of heavy-duty industrial custom machined and heat-treated parts and component assemblies. What might not be so widely known is that we are apparently not alone in our admiration of the industrial steel scene. Did you know that steel mills have been the location of choice for scenes for several popular movies? The following are a few famous films that have capitalized on the special effect of an industrial steel mill as a movie setting. (Information is courtesy of

deer hunter move posterThe Deer Hunter

This controversy sparking Vietnam War film movie is supposed to be taking place in Cleveland, Ohio, and Clairton – a blue collar steel town about ten miles south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In actuality, the town is a combination of eight separate locations.

The opening steel factory scenes were filmed in the US Steel Central Blast Furnace in Cleveland, though “only after a nervous studio insured its stars to the tune of $5 million – the plant is ominously dubbed the Widowmaker.”

 robocop move posterRobocop
This cinema gem from the late 1980’s is set in a dystopic and crime-infested city of Detroit and features a cyborg law enforcement officer who returns to the city to protect its citizens. Upon his return he is confronted by a deadly challenge in the form of a rogue OCP member who has secretly created a new, evil RoboCop 2.
The old steel mill in ‘Sector 3D’, where Murphy hides out and finally finishes off Boddicker’s crew, was the Duquesne Steel Works located to the southeast of Pittsburgh. Closed down in 1984, the plant was eventually totally demolished.
terminator move posterTerminator 2: Judgement Day

In yet another cyborg thriller, Terminator, what appears to be an indestructible humanoid cyborg is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress, whose unborn son will eventually lead humanity in a war against the machines. Fortunately for the targeted server, a soldier from that war is also sent from the future to protect her at all costs.

The remains of a demolished Kaiser Steel plant at Fontana, located east of Los Angeles, were used for the opening future war scene in the second movie of the series, Terminator 2. Toward the end of the movie, the action returns to the Fontana site as a nitrogen truck crashes into the steel mill.  The evil T-1000 cyborg is temporarily disabled by the nitrogen, but is soon revitalized by a pool of hot liquid steel. The molten metal effect was created by is flowing white paint and illuminated plastic panels, along with showers of sparks.

Two other 90’s movies features scenes filmed at the Fontana steel mill – the Outworld scenes in Mortal Kombat and the underground rave scene from Stargate.

Today, the Fontana site is home to California Steel Industries, the largest producer of flat-rolled steel in the western United States processing slab into finished steel products including hot-rolled, cold-rolled, and galvanized coil and sheet.

footloose move posterFootloose

As it turns out, steel mills have a connection to Kevin Bacon, too! The 1984 hit movie Footloose features the classic tale of teenage rebellion livened up with a hit-packed soundtrack and some catchy choreography. In the movie, Kevin Bacon’s character, Ren, is a teen who moves from Chicago to the small Midwestern town of Bomont.

The filming location is in Utah, primarily in the towns of Payson, Provo, Lindon, and Lehi.

Lindon is the location of the now closed Geneva Steel Plant, which is where Ren’s famous solo dance scene is filmed. The flour mill that employs Ren, and where the prom is eventually held, is actually the Lehi Roller Mills, located in Lehi. The Lehi Roller Mills have been there since 1906 and are still operating in full force.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
For the last of our featured films, we head back to the SciFi genre to look at the 2009 feature, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. This movie is one of a series of action movies inspired by the popular 1980’s line of toys. The concept behind the Transformers toyline is that an individual transformer’s parts can be altered to change it from a vehicle, a device, or an animal, to a robot action figure and back again.

The scene in which the characters Sideways and Demolishor battle and are destroyed was partially filmed in the old Bethlehem Steel site in Bethlehem, about 60 miles north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After its closing, Bethlehem Steel works was redeveloped as SteelStacks, an arts and entertainment district, which incorporates the plant’s five blast furnaces as a dramatic backdrop.

We hope you have enjoyed this look at the glamorous side of steel mills. Xtek is proud to be a part of the U.S. steel industry and active in the building of the structures and technology that comprise the landscape of America. Let us know if you have spotted other steel industry cameos at the movies!

All movie poster images courtesy of



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