Out of the Loop: A look at Sony Pictures Studios Twilight Tour


There are weekday tours of Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, Calif. However, in summer months, additional tours are scheduled in the evening hours. This gives guests an opportunity to see some areas that are not available during working hours, as well as an opportunity to see the studio lot at night. Let’s take a look.

DSC02364 The tour begins in the lobby of the headquarters building. Many movie props are on display, including these motorcycles from “Men in Black 3” and “Ghost Rider”.


DSC02386 Movie props are also on display in the adjacent company cafeteria.

DSC02375 A Baby Godzilla suit from the 1998 movie.

DSC02389 The tour leaves the headquarters and crosses a city street.



DSC02398 This production area has been home to several movie studios. It is now owned by Sony Pictures, which owns Columbia Studios and TriStar Pictures.

DSC02419 Just past the guarded gate is a lovely park setting that you’ve probably seen in many movies and TV shows.

DSC02409 Facing this park is the Thalberg building, which used to be the offices of MGM Studios. This building has also been seen in many movies.


DSC02401 A permanent rainbow shines here. It’s a reference to “The Wizard of Oz” and the “Over the Rainbow” song.


DSC02443 The rainbow was built as public art. Local ordinances require public art to be part of major architecture improvements and projects. Here’s some details of how the rainbow was built.


DSC02431 As the tour moves forward, the buildings get closer together. The grass here is artificial. Artificial grass doesn’t need to be mowed. No mowing means no motor noise affecting any nearby sound recording.

DSC02437 All areas lining this walkway are quickly available as sets.



DSC02454 An overhead walkway in art deco style, connects these disguised office buildings.


DSC02458 More architecture that probably dates back to the MGM Studios.




scoring One of the most exciting areas to see was this scoring stage. Music for every Pixar movie has been recorded on this stage, and the wall of the stage has a display of the Hawaiian shirts that John Lasseter wore during the recordings. This stage is also where music for “The Wizard of Oz” was recorded. Unfortunately, this was a production area where photos were not permitted past the entrance.

DSC02475 One of the production areas we could take photos in was this ADR stage. ADR is where actors re-record their lines when on location sound was too noisy. They watch themselves on screen and say the lines again.

DSC02477 The heavy duty railing gives actors something to hold on to when they need to shout or have some other heavy emotion during the ADR.

DSC02483 We also visited a Foley stage, where footsteps and other background sounds are recorded. The wood seen here is from the deck of the replica ship set built for the “Titanic” movie.

DSC02470 The tour reached the soundstages, and the architecture here looks familiar. Some of this seems similar to the soundstage rows in the Universal Studios and Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme parks.


DSC02499 Some architectural details unique to the Sony Studios.


DSC02503 Happy Madison is Adam Sandler’s production company.


DSC02512 The water tower has an odd, truncated look from this angle.

DSC02427 Farther away, the water tower looks traditionally shaped. At night, the beacon at the top blinks “Sony” in Morse Code.

DSC02520 “The Queen Latifah Show” tapes in this soundstage.

DSC02529 One of our stops was a visit to an upcoming reality TV show about an expedition planned to the South Pole in these vehicles.

DSC02536 The vehicles are very interesting.




DSC02547 The vehicles are modified Humvees.


DSC02548 The planned route.

DSC02540 It’s unknown what role this door has in the show. It might be a facade for the show participants to enter this lab.

DSC02549 We then moved on to visit the sets of some long-running TV games shows.

DSC02553 First stop, “Wheel of Fortune”.

DSC02556 Photos weren’t permitted of the set. They were taping shows for Halloween week, and the set needs to be a secret.

DSC02560 A photo from the “Wheel of Fortune” foyer.

DSC02630 The next game show was “Jeopardy!” The show has a new set for the new season. Photos of it were not allowed because the new shows had not aired yet.

DSC02631 The stage foyer has replica contestant stands where audience members can pose for photos. In the background is Alex Trebek from the first season.

DSC02637 This is the contestant’s Final Jeopardy question board, and at right is the trigger to press when you are ready to respond with a question in normal rounds.

DSC02647 A display of what Alex generally has on his podium.

DSC02643 Emmy Awards won by Jeopardy!

DSC02567 The tour continued past a New York set built for the movie “Burlesque”, and is in continual use since. Note the shipping container.

DSC02577 These seems like New York City facades seen in the Orlando theme parks.

DSC02578 However, this facade is built in front of a stack of shipping containers! Holes have been cut in the containers for windows and doors.

DSC02595 The final stop of the tour was to see some show cars. The race car is from “Talladega Nights”. The car in front, right, is from “Breaking Bad”.

DSC02587 Another car from “Breaking Bad”. The tour guide said fans of the show will love seeing photos of these vehicles.

DSC02604 A mobile lab from “Breaking Bad”.

DSC02613 The Green Hornet’s car.

DSC02652 A camper section used in filming.

DSC02622 The tour ended after sunset, and the lot had a completely different look.

DSC02662 We walked back on the same center walkway as we entered, and it felt something like being the last guests out of a theme park.


DSC02670 The Loews theater in the distance is used for special events.


DSC02678 The Thalberg building at night.

DSC02687 We’re headed back across the city street, to the Sony Picture headquarters. Our cars were parked in the underground parking.

DSC02686 The Sony Pictures Studios Twilight Tour was excellent. More information about this tour and the daytime tour is at sonypicturesstudiostours.com


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