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I was watching the 1998 Godzilla with my youngest when he remarked, "hey, it's WTC!" as the towers appeared in the background.

This got me wondering, what was the last work produced that featured the iconic WTC towers as part of the footage specifically shot for that work?

  • I'm interested in the original WTC, built in 1973 and destroyed in 2001.
  • I'm interested in all kinds of works; from dramatic films and documentaries, to news items that just happened to get them in shot.
  • I'm interested in learning about both the latest date of the footage itself, as well as the latest release / broadcast date. I'm aware that I'm technically asking two questions in one, but I consider these so similar that I'm asking them as one. If I should split them up, please let me know.
  • I'm looking for works that do not feature the attack itself, so the Naudet documentary (which I have seen) is out. Showing the ruins is out as well.
  • I'm looking for works that contain footage of the Twin Towers, shot specifically for that work. So no CGI, no stock footage or re-used footage. Though it is okay if the work features that as well, additionally.

Which work features the latest of such footage and which work was the last to be released featuring such?

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    Does the Sopranos count? The WTC was in the opening title sequence in seasons 1, 2 & 3, but removed for season 4, making the last episode to air with the WTC in it S03E13 Army of One aired May 20 2001. Also noted in movies.stackexchange.com/questions/110820/…
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 18, 2023 at 13:46
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    There was a spider man movie where I think they had to edit the WTC out because it was filmed before 9/11 and released after. I think there was a trailer that aired with the twin towers in it. Jul 18, 2023 at 13:48
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    There's also, rather conveniently, a Wikipedia list of films set in New York, by year - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_set_in_New_York_City#2000s It's gonna be one of those ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 18, 2023 at 13:51
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    Ahhh… we have a late entrant - Man on Wire released 2008 but using footage taken in 1974 when tightrope walker Philippe Petit walked between the towers. I found it whilst trying to find the Zemekis movie about the same guy, The Walk(2015) which is presumably all CGI.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 18, 2023 at 13:59
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    I guess the question should be more along the lines of "What was the last dramatic -non-documentary- work released that featured the WTC towers in the frame, specifically shot for that dramatic work?" - that would remove any documentaries, but would also remove any documentaries shot shortly before 9/11, or news articles. The thing is that footage of the WTC for a movie could be shot years before, and release could be any time, decades, after, and could still count. So the production date (and release) would have to be specified too. Jul 18, 2023 at 17:58

2 Answers 2

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Arguably the final footage of the WTC before the attacks is in the documentary Gédéon & Jules Naudet made about 9/11: they had been following a NYC fire crew (which regularly went to the WTC), and they were doing so on 11 September.

Members of the fire crew were checking a possible gas leak, and the camera took a shot of the crossing they were at, with the WTC in the background:

WTC on 9/11, shortly before impact

While filming the firemen, they hear the plane fly over (an unusual sound in NYC), they pan up the camera following the noise towards the WTC, and they film the impact. In the screenshot below, you can see the plane just before it impacts the WTC.

WTC on 9/11, right before the impact

The camera that filmed this, is now in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

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  • I had this documentary in mind when I wrote that I'm not looking for works that feature the attacks themselves.
    – SQB
    Jul 18, 2023 at 15:11
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    @SQB - you really can't beat "we were filming something else, then this happened" for the last footage. If you have specific exclusions [& I don't see why you should] then you need to have them in your question, not in comments.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 18, 2023 at 16:39
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    This is the most perfect answer ever. But somehow we were supposed to read OP's mind and know he had some arbitrary exception excluding this answer.
    – user97401
    Jul 19, 2023 at 4:28
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    IMHO by excluding this work for an IMHO arbitrary reason, you made your question unanswerable. Moreover, your question allows "news items with the towers in the background", yet by your restriction of "no footage of the attack" such items would be rejected if they were part of a broadcast on 9/11 that featured the attacks. We're 20+ years later, and AFAIK no filmmaker etc. has boasted about being "the last one to film the WTC", not in the least because we know who filmed the final moments of the WTC: Jules Naudet.
    – BCdotWEB
    Jul 19, 2023 at 13:59
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    You're still trying to exclude something that halfway through the shot turned from 'this is merely background' to 'OMG WTF'.
    – Tetsujin
    Jul 19, 2023 at 15:30
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Wikipedia has a kind of entry that sounds like this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_entertainment_affected_by_the_September_11_attacks

Non-altered films

Some films released after 9/11 kept scenes of the WTC in them.

  • Vanilla Sky (2001) – Director Cameron Crowe retained shots of the buildings in the film's final cut as a tribute despite the producers asking for them to be removed.
  • Delivering Milo (2001) – The WTC is seen from Ellis Island, while he rides in the boat.
  • Crazy Little Thing (2002) - Shots of the WTC remained in the film.
  • Spider-Man – Once Upon a Time The Super Heroes! (2001 documentary) – A shot of the towers was retained as a tribute. It was not edited for the DVD release on June 17, 2002.
  • Death to Smoochy (2002) – The North Tower is seen when Rainbow Randolph is dancing on the small bench in Duane Park. In the DVD commentary, Danny DeVito explained that it was the only shot in the movie that the WTC was in and he designed the shot. It means that this movie was filmed from January to May 2001, four months before the 9/11 attacks.
  • City by the Sea (2002) - The movie has some shots of the World Trade Center that were not edited out.
  • Gangs of New York (2002) – The film ends with the New York City skyline containing the Twin Towers. The filmmakers had filmed the shot before the 9/11 attacks and later debated whether have the towers dissolve out from the shot to signify their disappearance, or remove the sequence entirely.
  • Rush Hour 2 (2001) – Several scenes where a bomb explodes at the United States Consulate General were not edited for its video release

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Gangs of New York end scene

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    Also Mariah Carey's Glitter, as I've just found out.
    – SQB
    Jul 18, 2023 at 15:33
  • @SQB ha! That led me to jezebel.com/… interesting! Jul 18, 2023 at 15:38
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    chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2002-06-16-0206160186-story.html - "Two weeks after Sept. 11, Rolling Stone's Peter Travers went to a screening of the terrible Mariah Carey musical "Glitter" -- which contains a shot of the World Trade Center. The audience broke out into loud applause. Trust me: they weren't cheering the movie." Jul 18, 2023 at 15:42

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