Stage 12

Dates: 1928 – 

Built in 1928 for the musical “Broadway”, Stage 12 was the largest soundstage on the Universal lot (29,500 sq.ft.) and was believed to be the 8th largest soundstage in the world. The production offices around Stage 12 (including the Rock Hudson building and the Ross Hunter Building were demolished in early 2020. It’s believed Stage 12 was reduced in size by the removal of the Foley Stage that backed onto it. 

  • The largest stage in the world is Stage 15 at Babelsberg Film Studios in Potsdam, Germany (78,954 sq.ft.)
  • The second largest stage in the world is the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios in the UK. Although it was destroyed in a fire in July 2006, it has been rebuilt to be even larger and is now 59,000 square feet.
    More about the fire.
  • The third largest is Stage 13 (47,900 sq.ft.) at Babelsberg Film Studios in Potsdam, Germany.
  • The fourth largest is Mega Stage (45,900 sq ft.) at Pinewood Studios Toronto, Canada.
  • The fifth largest is Stage 15 (41,985 sq.ft.) at Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City, which was built in 1927 and was used for The Wizard of Oz, Men in Black, Spiderman etc.
  • The sixth largest is Stage 5 (31,301 sq.ft.) at Cinecitta Studios in Rome, Italy.
  • The seventh largest is Stage 2 (31,200 sq.ft.) at Disney Studios in Burbank, which was built in 1949 in conjunction with Jack Webb, who used the stage for the filming of the television series Dragnet. The Mickey Mouse Club was also shot there.

Stage 12 was the first purpose-built soundstage at Universal (designed with shooting sound films in mind). It was the only stage on the Universal backlot that could accommodate the cavernous sets for Frankenstein, and many other epic movies.

For a short period it was referred to as the “Back to the Future stage”.

The stage and associated production offices were closed for demolition / redevelopment in January 2020. 

Seen on Screen: Universal Studios Hollywood [Stage_12]

Broadway [Feature Film]1929Paul FejosIMDB Database page about Broadway
Stage 12
King of Jazz [Feature Film]1930John Murray AndersonIMDB Database page about King of Jazz
Stage 12
Dracula [Feature Film]1931Tod BrowningIMDB Database page about Dracula
Stage 12 (Interior of Castle / Grand Staircase / Interior of Abbey), Stage 28 (Royal Albert Hall sequence - Bela Lugosi sat in an opera box originally built for Phantom of the Opera in 1925), Little Europe backlot
Frankenstein [Feature Film]1931James WhaleIMDB Database page about Frankenstein
Many of the exteriors of the village were shot on the Little Europe sets at Universal, including the Court of Miracles {The townspeople of Goldstadt celebrated the wedding of Henry Frankenstein to Elizabeth in this square. ). However, they're not the same sets that can be seen today - all of todays Little Europe was built in 1967 after a huge fire destroyed the vintage sets.
Many scenes that look like exteriors were shot on soundstages (there are some unfortunate ripples of backcloths which give away the interior shooting, and footsteps that sound like wooden staging not outdoor rocks and mud). The highly theatrical backdrops with dramatic skies helped to set the atmosphere of exaggerated reality.
The huge Laboratory set was built on Stage 12 at Universal Studios Hollywood. The stage had been built in 1929. The electrical machinery in Dr Frankenstein's laboratory was provided by Kenneth Strickfaden. The same machinery reappeared years later in the fabulous Mel Brooks homage Young Frankenstein
The Bride of Frankenstein [Feature Film]1935James WhaleIMDB Database page about The Bride of Frankenstein
Court of Miracles, Little Europe, Stage 12 (Laboratory set), Stage 28 (special effects stage - used for filming miniatures of the laboratory exterior and destruction of the laboratory)
So Goes My Love aka A Genius in the Family [Feature Film]1946Frank RyanIMDB Database page about So Goes My Love aka A Genius in the Family
Colonial Street sets (Maxim House / Munster House, Harvey House) were first built on Stage 12 for this movie.
Harvey [Feature Film]1950Henry KosterIMDB Database page about Harvey
Colonial Street including what is now known as the Harvey House and the Colonial Mansion. Interiors were shot on Stage 12, Stage 20, Stage 23.
It Came from Outer Space [Feature Film]1953Jack Arnold IMDB Database page about It Came from Outer Space
Courthouse Square, Stage 12 (sequences were shot here with painted backgrounds)
Creature from the Black Lagoon [Feature Film]1954Jack Arnold IMDB Database page about Creature from the Black Lagoon
Park Lake and the Black Lagoon featured heavily, as the Amazon. The water tanks under Stage 12 were also used alongside interior sets (to be confirmed)
Spartacus [Feature Film]1960Stanley KubrickIMDB Database page about Spartacus
The Square of Warriors (formerly known as Spartacus Square) was designed and built for this movie. Laurence Olivier addresses the Roman soldiers from the Roman Senate steps. The backlot road leading to the Flash Flood was used as the Appian Way. The senate interiors were shot on Stage 06. Stage 12 was also used.
Flower Drum Song [Feature Film]1961Henry KosterIMDB Database page about Flower Drum Song
Stage 12
Thoroughly Modern Millie [Feature Film]1967George Roy HillIMDB Database page about Thoroughly Modern Millie
Stage 12 (Muzzy Estate), Stage 22, Stage 27, Stage 28 were the soundstages used. The Paris Opera House sets on Stage 28 were used for the theatre sequence. Many exterior scenes were shot on New York Street and Brownstone Street. The Square of Warriors embassy buildings featured as Carol Channing / Muzzy's house.
Sweet Charity [Feature Film]1968Bob FosseIMDB Database page about Sweet Charity
The Central Park bridge built for the movie still exists (as a shell) behind the King Kong Model Ship adjacent to Park Lake. This was before the Red Sea effect was built for the Studio Tour, so the area was very different then.
Brownstone Street, Stage 12, Stage 27
The Andromeda Strain [Feature Film]1971Robert WiseIMDB Database page about The Andromeda Strain
Stage 12
The Sting [Feature Film]1973George Roy HillIMDB Database page about The Sting
Brownstone Street and New York Street feature as Old Chicago. The theater on the south side of New York Street featured as the exterior of the Burlesque Theater, and an elevated rail track was built to run above the street. The Paris Opera House sets on Stage 28 were used for the theater interior scenes. Stage 12, Stage 22, Stage 23, Stage 24, Stage 27 and Stage 32 were also used.
Airport 1975 [Feature Film]1974Jack SmightIMDB Database page about Airport 1975
Stage 12, Stage 747
Earthquake [Feature Film]1974Mark RobsonIMDB Database page about Earthquake
New York Street, extended by glorious matte paintings and miniature footage, is destroyed in numerous ways. Stage 12 was used for the WIlson Plaza collapse and the stairway rescue.
The Hindenburg [Feature Film]1975Robert WiseIMDB Database page about The Hindenburg
Stage 12
The movie features extensive matte paintings by Albert Whitlock. A model of the Hindenburg airship was built for film which was over 25 feet in length and was flown in front of a backdrop. Matte paintings of the airship based on photographs of the model were also used.
The Incredible Shrinking Woman [Feature Film]1981Joel SchumacherIMDB Database page about The Incredible Shrinking Woman
Stage 12, Stage 22, New York Street
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas [Feature Film]1982Colin HigginsIMDB Database page about The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
Chicken Ranch set was built in full on Stage 12 and opened like a dollhouse for interior and exterior shots. The set was moved to it's current outdoor location after filming.
Scarface [Feature Film]1983Brian De PalmaIMDB Database page about Scarface
Stage 12 was used for large set piece scenes. Stage 06 was also used.
Back to the Future [Feature Film]1985Robert ZemeckisIMDB Database page about Back to the Future
Courthouse Square featured as Hill Valley. Stage 12 (Interior Doc's house).
Legal Eagles [Feature Film]1986Ivan ReitmanIMDB Database page about Legal Eagles
Stage 12, New York Street backlot
Psycho III [Feature Film]1986Anthony PerkinsIMDB Database page about Psycho III
Psycho House, Stage 12, Black Lagoon (Park Lake)
Mobsters [Feature Film]1991Michael KarbelnikoffIMDB Database page about Mobsters
New York Street, Stage 12
Batman Returns [Feature Film]1992Tim BurtonIMDB Database page about Batman Returns
Stage 12 - Penguins underground lair - tank filled with half a million gallons of water and a simulated ice floe island. The stage was kept at a very low temperature to keep the penguins happy.
Jurassic Park [Feature Film]1993Steven SpielbergIMDB Database page about Jurassic Park
Stage 12 (Visitor Centre), Stage 16, Stage 23 [park maintenance shed], Stage 24 [visitors centre kitchen when velociraptors attack], Stage 27 [Ford Explorer falling through tree (suspended on cables), Brachiosaurus visiting cast in a tree in the morning, Nedry's encounter with a Spitter, attack on Muldoon], Stage 28 (Computer Control room and hatchery)
Casper [Feature Film]1995Brad SilberlingIMDB Database page about Casper
Colonial Street, Colonial Mansion, Stage 12 (interior of Whipstaff Manor), Stage 28, Singapore Lake
The Lost World: Jurassic Park [Feature Film]1997Steven SpielbergIMDB Database page about The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Old Mexico, Stage 12, Stage 22 [Worker Village kiln house & shed], Stage 24 [T Rex stage - sets were build around the dinosaurs which ran on tracks], Stage 25 [Full size T Rex scenes. The T Rexs were so large they could not be moved from Stage 25 once assembled - the sets had to be built and moved around them], Stage 27 [Gatherers base camp], Stage 28
Psycho [Feature Film]1998Gus Van SantIMDB Database page about Psycho
Colonial Street, Stage 12, Stage 20, Stage 22
How the Grinch Stole Christmas [Feature Film]2000Ron HowardIMDB Database page about How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Stage 12 [Whoville], Stage 27 [Mt.Crumpit set], Stage 28 [cave set], Stage 29, Stage 31 and 6 other stages.
Jurassic Park III [Feature Film]2001Joe JohnstonIMDB Database page about Jurassic Park III
Falls Lake, Stage 01, Stage 12 [jungle rain forest set - plane crashes into tree, Tyrannosaurus vs Spinosaurus battle], Stage 18 [plane in flight - interior, dinosaur kennel set], Stage 27 [A pteranodon grabs Eric. The groups watches helplessly as Eric is carried away. Everyone scrambles to get Eric. Grant and Amanda are separated from Paul by a Pteranodon], Stage 28 [Pteranodon drops Eric into the Nest area. Eric hits hatchlings with his knapsack. Paul, in pursuit, slips and slides, lands down to nest. Paul grabs Eric, they fight their way out of the nest.], Stage 29 [rock wall observatory], Stage 44 [rock wall canyon, flooded], Stage 25, Stage 747
Hulk [Feature Film]2003Ang LeeIMDB Database page about Hulk
A new set of houses was built on Elm Street on the backlot for this movie. Banner's childhood home was built on the Falls Lake tank. These stages were used for interior scenes: Stage 01, Stage 12 [underground lab], Stage 22, Stage 23 [father's house interior], Stage 27, Stage 28 [the first floor of Bruce Banner's house], Stage 35.
Jarhead [Feature Film]2005Sam MendesIMDB Database page about Jarhead
Stage 12 (aircraft interior), Stage 22, Stage 28, Little Europe Eastern Area
Serenity [Feature Film]2005Joss WhedonIMDB Database page about Serenity
Stage 12, Stage 19, Stage 22
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest [Feature Film]2006Gore VerbinskiIMDB Database page about Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man
Mediterranean Square (as tavern in Tortuga, with additional set dressing). Stage 23, Stage 24, Stage 28, Stage 31 and Stage 12 (tropical island village / Singapore) were also used.
Die Hard 4.0 [Feature Film]2007Len WisemanIMDB Database page about Die Hard 4.0
Stage 12
Evan Almighty [Feature Film]2007Tom ShadyacIMDB Database page about Evan Almighty
Ark flood sequence shot on Falls Lake. Stage 12 (top section of the ark) and Stage 27 (entrance and lower section of the ark) were also used.
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets [Feature Film]2007Jon TurteltaubIMDB Database page about National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets
Stage 12 (treasure room), Stage 41, New York Street (opening scenes set in 1865), Falls Lake
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World [Feature Film]2007Gore VerbinskiIMDB Database page about Pirates of the Caribbean: At World
Falls Lake, Stage 12 (tropical island village / Singapore), Stage 23, Stage 24, Stage 28, Stage 31.
Tropic Thunder [Feature Film]2008Ben StillerIMDB Database page about Tropic Thunder
Stage 12
Couples Retreat [Feature Film]2009Peter BillingsleyIMDB Database page about Couples Retreat
Stage 12
Land of the Lost [Feature Film]2009Brad SilberlingIMDB Database page about Land of the Lost
Stage 12, Stage 27, Stage 28 at Universal Studios Hollywood.
The Voice [TV Series]2011IMDB Database page about The Voice
Stage 12 was used as the base for the first 17 seasons of the US version of The Voice. They moved out in January 2020 when the production offices around Stage 12 were demolished in preparation for the area being redeveloped.

Additional Productions filmed on this stage

  • Galactica 1980 (1980, TV Series) [forest scene where spaceship lands]
  • *batteries not included (1987)
  • Back to the Future 2/3 (1989 – 1990) [mine, cave where Delorean is parked etc.]

Fire on Stage 12

From Variety, November 2 1992

Fire damaged a sound stage at Universal Studios Saturday (31 October 1992), nearly two years to the day after an arson-set fire damaged four acres of the studio’s backlot on Nov. 6, 1990.
Saturday’s fire broke out in insulation in the attic of Sound Stage 12. About 120 firefighters responded to the blaze, which was reported shortly before 10 a.m. and was brought under control about an hour later.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Studio Specifications


Stage 12 – Building number 468

  • Area (sq.ft.):29054
  • Length (feet):199
  • Width (feet):146
  • Height (feet-inches):49-2
  • Floor Material:Concrete
  • Pits/Tanks (LxWxH):W18-2×9-7×5-9
  • Distributed Load: 500PSF, Point Load: 7000LBS
  • Door Openings (WxH):S37-8×27-3, NE28-3×25-2, NW12-0x18-4