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21 Great Movies Shot in Canada – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

21 Great Movies Shot in Canada



Canada has become a popular destination for movie and TV series production due to its great studio facilities, versatile cities, picturesque provinces, affordable accommodation, good exchange rates, and generous government subsidies. Many famous movies and TV shows have been filmed either partially or entirely in Canada, including Heartland, Where Calls the Heart, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Boys, Chicago, Suicide Squad, and Mean Girls. Canada has earned the nickname “Hollywood North” due to its popularity in the entertainment industry, and many megastars hail from there.

The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton as the titular superhero, was filmed mostly in Toronto. Former mayor David Miller, a huge fan of the comics, insisted on the production team shutting down Yonge Street, a major thoroughfare in the city, for four nights in a row. Scary Movie, a parody of American teen horror flicks in the 1990s, was filmed in Vancouver Technical Secondary School, Steveston, south of Vancouver, and Moncton Street in Richmond.

Chicago, a musical set in the roaring 20s, was entirely filmed in Toronto, making good use of stand-in locations like Osgoode Hall, Queen’s Park, the Elgin Theatre, the Canada Life Building, the Danforth Music Hall, and Old City Hall. Hairspray, set in 1960s Baltimore, was also filmed entirely in Canada, in both Hamilton and Toronto.

Other movies filmed in Canada include My Big Fat Greek Wedding, The Suicide Squad, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn, Juno, Capote, American Psycho, and The Butterfly Effect. Despite being set in various locations in the U.S., these movies took advantage of Canadian studios, cities, and landscapes.

Canada’s popularity in the entertainment industry is not surprising, given the country’s stunning scenery and excellent production facilities. With its diverse landscapes and versatile cities, Canada is sure to remain a popular destination for movie and TV series production for years to come.

It is no secret that many TV series and movies are filmed in Canada, whether in dynamic metropolises or picturesque provinces. The long-running family drama Heartland is shot between Calgary and Millarville in Alberta; Hallmark’s Western romantic dramedy Where Calls the Heart, on a farm south of Vancouver; the dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale, mostly in Ontario; the superhero satire The Boys, in Toronto, despite being set in New York City.


Boasting great studio facilities, affordable accommodation, versatile cities, good exchange rates, and generous government subsidies, it is no wonder Canada has earned its nickname Hollywood North, not to mention that many megastars in the entertainment industry hail from there. It might be more obvious when the film in question is actually meant to be set there, but most audiences do not realize that films like Chicago, Suicide Squad, or Mean Girls have also taken advantage of Canadian studios, cities, and landscapes.

Here are 20 famous movies that were filmed, either entirely or partially, in Canada.

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21 The Incredible Hulk

Promo art of Edward Norton as the Hulk in 2008's The Incredible Hulk from Marvel Studios
Universal Pictures

While not considered the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s greatest creation, The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton as the titular superhero AKA Bruce Banner, was filmed mostly in Toronto, due to the insistence (and valuable assistance) of former mayor David Miller, a huge fan of the comics. Audiences can spot Yonge Street, Melinda Street, University of Toronto, and Morningside Park.

Per YardBarker, “Miller agreed to shut down Yonge Street, a major thoroughfare in the city, for four nights in a row. However, the production had to do its part. At the end of filming every night, they had to clean up everything to allow business to progress as normal in the morning. When you are filming major action scenes, that isn’t exactly an easy cleanup, but they did it.”

20 Scary Movie

Scary Movie
Dimension Films

A hilarious parody of the wave of American teen horror flicks in the 1990s, Scary Movie was filmed in Vancouver Technical Secondary School, which was also used in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Air Bud, and Batwoman. The quaint fishing village of Steveston, south of Vancouver, a dock at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery, and Moncton Street, in Richmond, were also featured.

Related: Why Scary Movie 4 Is the Funniest Entry in the Franchise

19 Chicago

Chicago
Miramax Films

Helmed and choreographed by Rob Marshall, Chicago stars Renée Zellwegger as Roxie, Catherine Zeta Jones as Velma, Richard Gere as Billy Flynn, and Queen Latifah as Matron Mama Morton. Ironically, no part of the roaring 20s musical was filmed in the Windy City, or anywhere else in Illinois; production took place entirely in Toronto, making good use of stand-in locations like Osgoode Hall, Queen’s Park, the Elgin Theatre, the Canada Life Building, the Danforth Music Hall, and Old City Hall, among many others.

Per Movie Locations, “The Onyx had to be built in the old Gooderham & Worts Distillery, which has been used as studio space and locations for plenty of films, including X-Men (as the concentration camp of the opening scene), Three Men and a Baby, Mimic, and The Recruit. Surprisingly, the convincingly grim prison interior and the courtroom, with its circus-ring design, were also sets built here.”

18 Hairspray

Hairspray
New Line Cinema

Adapted from a stage play of the same name, the musical Hairspray centers on Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), a professional dancer dreaming of stardom but who ends up advocating for racial integration. Despite being set in 1960s Baltimore, the movie was filmed entirely in Canada, in both Hamilton and Toronto, mainly because the soundstages are better equipped and much larger there.

17 My Big Fat Greek Wedding

My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Alliance Cinema

In the beloved intercultural romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula (Nia Vardalos), a Greek-American woman, is in a relationship with Ian (John Corbett), an American Protestant man. Toronto’s Greektown AKA The Danforth, Ryerson Polytechnic University, Harbourfront Centre, and Jarvis Collegiate Institute provided perfect locations.

16 The Suicide Squad

Jared Leto Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad
Warner Bros. Pictures

David Ayer’s The Suicide Squad, featuring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, and Jared Leto, centers on incarcerated super-villains who reluctantly take on the mission of saving the world. It was mostly filmed in Pinewood Toronto Studios in Port Lands and the streets of Toronto.

15 The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn

Kiristen Stewart as Bella and Robert Pattinson as Edward in The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
Summit Distribution

While the first film installment of Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling vampire romance novels, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, and Billy Burke, was mostly filmed in the U.S. state of Oregon, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn I and II made use of several Canadian locations. Vancouver’s David Thompson Secondary School stood in for Forks High School. The Orpheum Theatre was used for the flashback scene. Bella and Jacob’s motorcycle ride was filmed in Widgeon Slough National Wildlife Area. The Cullen House was built in Squamish, while the Swans’ was constructed at a park in Surrey, southeast of Vancouver. Other Canadian locations include the beaches of Ucluelet, the Paramount Gentleman’s Club in New Westminster, Mount Seymour, and Gilley’s Trail in Minnekhada Park.

14 Juno

Juno
Fox Searchlight Pictures

The 2007 coming-of-age indie dramedy Juno, tackling teen pregnancy, might be set in Minnesota, but it was shot within a month in Vancouver, under budgetary restrictions. Director Jason Reitman, who is originally from Montréal, insisted on it, and the lead actors, Halifax-born Elliot Page and Brampton-native Michael Cera, gladly went along. Yet the Genies Awards snubbed the movie at the time and didn’t consider it Canadian enough.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, this upset Reitman, who declared, “It’s a Canadian director, Canadian stars, Canadian cast, Canadian crew, shot in Canada — how are we not eligible for a Genie, when David Cronenberg’s film about Russians living in London, shot in England, with a British crew and British cast, is eligible? I’m sorry, but somebody is going to have to explain that to me; I don’t get it.”

13 Capote

Capote
Sony Pictures Classics

Directed by Bennett Miller and starring Philip Seymour Hoffman in a lead role that earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor, the psychological biographical drama Capote revolves around American novelist Truman Capote. Though set in 1960s Kansas and tackling the murder of the Clutter family in their farm, the movie was filmed in Winnipeg and Selkirk, in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Keen viewers will recognize the Stony Mountain Institution, the Manitoba Legislative Building, and Gilbart’s Funeral Home. According to Blown Potential, Miller picked Canada over Kansas because “It was just the best place to shoot it. Winnipeg is the same plain, agriculture, landscape, geography, architecture. Where are you going to find those Great Plain’s faces? It turned out to be a great location for us.”

12 American Psycho

A man holding an axe
Lionsgate Films

Helmed by Canadian director Mary Harron and centering on the wealthy investment banker Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) and his hidden murderous sprees, the satirical horror American Psycho is supposedly set in New York City, but was filmed in Toronto. Bateman’s office building is the Toronto-Dominion Centre; the Phoenix Concert Theatre stood in for the dance club; and the posh restaurants frequented by Bateman include The Senator and the Omni King Edward Hotel’s Consort Bar.

“The one scene where we really did have to use Toronto for New York is the big climax of the movie, when he’s in a panic, and he runs to his office. And they [The production team] suggested shooting in the Toronto-Dominion Centre, which is these two identical towers in a plaza. Really beautiful architecture, Mies van der Rohe, and sort of classic modernism. And the idea of the identical towers was so great, because the story itself has a lot of doubling. It’s about mistaken identity.”

– Harron to e-flux Architecture

11 The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect
New Line Cinema

The psychological sci-fi thriller The Butterfly Effect, directed by Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber and starring Ashton Kutcher and Amy Smart, explores time travel in the form of an adult mind taking over his younger self, and the alternate realities and futures that ensue. Most scenes were filmed in British Columbia, namely in Vancouver, Langley, Port Moody, and Aldergrove.

“The reason we shot in Vancouver – I would always prefer to shoot in the States – was that we made the movie for 9 million dollars, which isn’t a lot. Canada, with the tax breaks and things you get, that’s why we shot it there. The location matched somewhat of an East coast feeling of the United States. What was fantastic about Vancouver was that it offered us an opportunity to do some great research for Amy Smart’s character, and my character as well, because there’s an area of town that’s probably the heaviest concentrated heroin-abused area in North America. It’s a street called Hasting Street, which is right in the middle of the city, and it’s just heroin junkies up and down the street using, banging heroin out in public. We went down there, and we were being propositioned to buy heroin and just intermingling with people that were high on heroin. What coincidentally is also one of the outlets which people with post-traumatic stress disorder or disassociation disorder use to block out what they don’t want to face.”

– Kutcher to Coming Soon

10 Catch Me if You Can

Christopher Walken as Frank Sr. in Catch Me If You Can@._V1_
DreamWorks Pictures

Montréal and Québec City, with their plethora of historical buildings and overall European character, are considered by North American filmmakers a convincing alternative for period and modern-day stories set in the old continent. That is why parts of Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can, a biographical crime dramedy starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, were filmed there, in lieu of Montrichard and other areas in France.

Fun fact: The film was shot in 147 different locations in just 52 days.

9 Mean Girls

The plastics clique in Mean Girls
Paramount Pictures

A teen comedy cult classic written by Tina Fey and starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, and Amanda Seyfried, Mean Girls tackles the themes of bullying, superficial beauty, and fashion standards in an Illinois high school. It was mostly filmed in Toronto, namely in the University of Toronto, Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, the Sherway Gardens mall, and Malvern Collegiate Institute.

8 Good Will Hunting

Robin Williams cracking up in Good Will Hunting
Miramax Films 

Gus Van Sant’s psychological drama Good Will Hunting, written by and starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and also featuring Robin Williams, Stellan Skarsgård, and Minnie Driver, won Best Supporting Actor for Williams and Best Original Screenplay. The plot centers on a Boston janitor who is a mathematical genius, so the film was shot in and around Massachusetts. However, many scenes were wrapped in The University of Toronto, as well as Central Technical School, located in the Harbord Village neighborhood of downtown Toronto.

7 Deadpool

Ryan Reynolds holding weapons in Deadpool (2016)
20th Century Fox

The highest-grossing R-rated film of 2016, Marvel’s Deadpool, directed by Tim Miller, features Ryan Reynolds as the titular superhero and Morena Baccarin as his love interest. Much of the filming took place in Vancouver, namely in the Georgia Street Viaduct, Arch Alley, Cobalt Hotel, Chinatown, Leeside Tunnel Skatepark, and North Shore Studios. Reynolds himself hails from Vancouver, hence his Instagram handle vancityreynolds.

6 Brokeback Mountain

brokeback-mountain-sheep
River Road Entertainment

The romantic neo-Western Brokeback Mountain centers on the relationship between two cowboys, played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Director Ang Lee took home the Oscar for Best Director. Southern Alberta’s stunning Rocky Mountains and the town of Fort Macleod provided an idyllic backdrop for the two leads’ forbidden love story, and the area was flooded by tourists after the film was released. Local tour operators still provide Brokeback Mountain Circuit trips, starting with Calgary, then Canmore, Cowley, Fort MacLeod, and finally, Beiseker.

5 Interstellar

Interstellar
Paramount Pictures

Speaking of the lush prairie province of Alberta, Christopher Nolan filmed the epic dystopian sci-fi Interstellar there, especially in Longview, Lethbridge, Nanton, Fort Macleod, and Okotoks’ Seaman Stadium and Olde Town Plaza. The film features a stellar cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Bill Irwin.

“In the script for Interstellar, the setting for the farm was written as being surrounded by corn fields, with mountains in the distance. There are not a lot of places in the world, apparently, that can have both. So, the filmmakers were taking a $100K gamble to grow corn in Western Canada, outside Calgary, where the film was shot. This is what separates directors like Christopher Nolan from others. He is willing to go every extra mile to make his vision come true on the screen.”

Cinema Blend

4 The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Guillermo Del Toro’s romantic fantasy movie The Shape of Water explores the relationship between a humanoid amphibian (Doug Jones) held captive at a U.S. government facility and Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins), a mute custodian working there. Though the plot is set in Baltimore, Maryland, principal photography took place in Toronto’s Victorian Massey Hall, Cinespace Studios, and Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres, as well as Hamilton’s MacNab Street, City Hall, the Lakeshore Sand Company, and Don River docks.

“From an iconic, neon-lit diner to an ornate movie theater, the film revels in Americana from another age, making the fact that it was shot in and around Toronto all the more impressive. The film marks del Toro’s third collaboration with producer and Toronto native J. Miles Dale and is the director’s fourth consecutive feature to be shot in Canada.”

The Hollywood Reporter

The movie went on to win Best Production Design, Best Original Score, Best Director, and Best Picture.

3 Rambo: First Blood

First Blood
Orion Pictures

Helmed by Ted Kotcheff and co-written by and starring Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a Vietnam War veteran with PTSD, the 1982 action flick First Blood may take place in Hope, Washington, but it was actually filmed in another small town with the same quaint name, located in southern British Columbia. Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park doubled as Chapman Gorge, while other outdoor scenes featured Capilano Canyon, Golden Ears Provincial Park, and Pitt Lake. In 2020, a wooden statue of Rambo, crafted by the artist Ryan Villers of Edmonton, was unveiled in Hope. Per CTV News, Villers found the task both “highly stressful” and “tremendous, really cool.”

The town still offers self-guided tours and trail maps of the iconic shooting locations.

Fun fact: Soldiers of the Canadian Army served as extras.

Not-so-fun fact: $50,000 worth of imported firearms were stolen from the set.

2 Titanic

Kate Winslet as Rose DeWitt Bukater
20th Century Fox

James Cameron’s epic romance and historical disaster film, Titanic, stars Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, and Leonardo DiCaprio, and garnered 11 Oscars. While most photography took place in the U.S., certain scenes were shot in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Canada. It is, after all, only 700 nautical miles away from the spot where the real vessel sank.

Related: 9 Movies Like Titanic If You Want to Watch an Epic Story

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