The 1942 American romantic drama film Casablanca was a massive hit when it was first released.
The movie brought in $4.1 million in box office revenue, according to Box Office Mojo, which is equivalent to more than $65 million adjusted for today’s values. It drew thousands to movie theatres to see the tale of Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid and their personal conflicts in the city of Casablanca, Morocco. Set during WW2, an American man struggles between his love for a woman or helping her and her husband escape from the city.
The film was a critical hit and a financial success but it has since become one of the most well-quoted movies of all time. From quotes such as “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine,” “here’s looking at you, kid,” and “we’ll always have Paris,” many will have heard references to this iconic film without having seen the film or even knowing which film it was from!
But what is the lasting impact of the film? Beyond the quotes and the box office boost, Casablanca helped to put the real Morrocan city on the map. But do people still consider it as one of the must-see destinations in the world or, more than 75 years on, have the benefits finally worn off?
How Casablanca Influenced Tourism
It cannot be understated how much of an effect that the movie Casablanca had on tourism to the area. While the film was filmed with the classic black and white style of the time and, although it was filmed on a stage in California rather than the actual city of Casablanca, it was enough for many to fall in love with the location. The idea of dimly lit rooms and star-crossed lovers in complicated love triangles had many thinking of what their own lives would look like if they lived there too.
For Americans especially, the idea that an American nightclub and casino like Rick’s Café Américain would welcome expatriates in a foreign place with so much to offer only enhanced the draw. In fact, many will have flocked to Casablanca for this exciting nightlife. The movie features what is arguably the most famous cameo of a roulette wheel of all time, as roulette tables are dotted around Rick’s bar and a house band keeps things feeling lively in the background. Betway highlights Casablanca’s connection with roulette, specifically pointing to the scene in which Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick tells a young couple to bet on 22, only to see them win twice.
The roulette scene is one of the most famous scenes in the movie too. While Rick’s Cafe was fictional at the time, there now exists a real Rick’s Cafe and Bar in Casablanca, which opened in 2004 and has been decorated to recreate the interior of the hotspot in the movie so those who want to visit that hotspot are now able to do so.
What Does Casablanca Have to Offer Now?
Casablanca is still the same hub for culture and hip happenings that it was as depicted in the movie. Le Cabestan, a restaurant founded in 1927, existed before the famous movie made its debut and it is still going strong today. It provides a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean and its food and service draw in politicians, artists, businessmen, and even royalty.
And, speaking of incredible views, sightseeing locations such as the Casablanca Cathedral, the Medina (old city district), and the Corniche beachfront district are a great opportunity to take popping photos for your social media, showing off the unrivaled sights that the black and white movie never could have captured. Morocco drew in 8.7 million tourists during the first eight months of 2018, according to the country’s ministry of tourism, with Casablanca being one of the top three destinations, and these impressive views being just one reason why.
With that said, Casablanca is as much an economic hub as it is a tourist-focused one. The Port of Casablanca is the largest in Africa, says Easy Expat, and the Grand Casablanca region alone is responsible for 32% of Morocco’s production and 56% of its industrial labor. So, while it is still worth visiting as a tourist, expect it to look a lot different to the way it was portrayed in the film.