15 movies you didn’t realize were filmed in Canada
The best films shot in Hollywood North
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It’s a bit of an open secret at this point that numerous Hollywood films are shot right here in Canada. In fact, so many U.S. films are shot in Canada that the country’s film industry is now affectionately nicknamed “Hollywood North.” Numerous factors make the Canadian film production industry so appealing to Hollywood producers and directors with favourable exchange rates, tax breaks and rebates, excellent studio facilities, versatile cities, stunning landscapes and locations, and even the quality of the light contributing to the country’s cinematic appeal.
If you’re curious to see some of the best that Hollywood North can offer, we’ve gathered together a list of several famous movies filmed in the Great White North. From Oscar-winning monster features to cult-classic teen comedies, these are the 15 best movies you didn’t realize were filmed in Canada.
Considering it was shot entirely in the Ontarian capital this film should have been called "Toronto”. Numerous historical Toronto locations and buildings act as stand-ins for the musical films Chicago setting with Osgoode Hall, Queen's Park, the former Gooderham and Worts Distillery, Casa Loma, the Elgin Theatre, Union Station, the Canada Life Building, the Danforth Music Hall, and Old City Hall all making an appearance.
Watch Chicago on Amazon Prime Video
2. The Incredible Hulk
Arguably the most disposable film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, The Incredible Hulk features Edward Norton as the titular force of nature, and Bruce Banner’s alter ego. Aside from the opening sections in Rio De Janeiro, most filming took place in, you guessed it, Toronto. Former Toronto mayor David Millar was a huge fan of the Hulk comics and convinced the filmmakers to film in the city by promising to provide assistance during the filming of the climactic battle sequence. The sequence itself was shot in Yonge Street while the University of Toronto and Morningside Park stood in the scenes set at the Culver University.
Watch The Incredible Hulk on Netflix Canada
James Cameron is arguably the most successful (from a box-office point of view) Canadian director of all time so it’s fitting that he would film significant portions of one of the highest-grossing films of all time in Canada. While most of the film was shot in a studio and off the coast of California, filming for the modern-day sections on the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh took place off the coast of Nova Scotia.
Watch Titanic on Netflix Canada
Juno, the tale of a teenager dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, was a career launchpad for many of those involved. The smartly funny and surprisingly sweet film put writer Diablo Cody and Canadian-American director Jason Reitman on the map. It was also the breakout film of actor Eliot Page who played the sardonic and wise-beyond-her-years title character. Set in snowy Minnesota, filming took place in the Vancouver area of British Columbia. The decision to film in Canada was partly for budgetary reasons but also at the insistence of Reitman.
Watch Juno on Disney+
5. The Shape of Water
The first of two films on this list that are set in Baltimore, Maryland but are actually filmed in Canada. This Oscar-winning film depicts the unconventional romance between a mute cleaner working at a secret research base and the humanoid amphibious creature held captive by the U.S. government. Director Guillermo Del Toro—who often films in Canada—used several Toronto and Hamilton as the backdrop for this aquatic tale.
Watch The Shape of Water on Disney+
6. The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Look, we aren’t going to make a value judgement on the Twilight films. They are clearly beloved by fans, and their box-office pull is undeniable. The films take place in the misty forests of the Pacific Northwest, and Twilght, the first film to deal with the human/vampire/werewolf love triangle, was filmed in the U.S. state of Oregon. However, large portions of the remaining entries in the series, all four of them, were filmed in and around Vancouver.
Watch The Twilight Saga: New Moon on Crave
7. IT: Part 1 and IT: Part 2
You could argue that the fictional town of Derry, Maine is as much a character of this horror hit as the titular clown and the members of The Loser Club. However, Part 1 and Part 2 of this terrifying horror duo were filmed in Port Hope and Toronto despite the setting.
Rent IT: Chapter 1 on Amazon Prime Video for $4.99
Watch IT: Chapter 2 on Crave
8. Catch Me If You Can
Spielberg’s breezy adaptation of Catch Me If You Can was a welcome relief after the grim trifecta of Saving Private Ryan, A.I, and Minority Report. Based on the autobiography of former con-man Frank Abagnale Jr. the film depicts the globetrotting exploits and eventual capture of Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) by FBI agent Carl Hanratty (Tom Hanks). While it’s not unusual to see Canadian locations used to depict U.S. cities, Catch Me If You Can takes things a step further, with Montreal and Quebec standing in for the scenes set in France.
Watch Catch Me If You Can on Amazon Prime Video
After the overly dour theatrics of Zack Snyders grim Batman V Superman, the silly superhero fun of Shazam! was a welcome surprise. Based on the DC Comic of the same name, Shazam! follows teenager Billy Batson who is bestowed with awesome magic that transforms him into a superpowered adult. Imagine Big meets Superman, and you’ll have the basic idea. The film is set in Philadelphia, but the principal filming took place in Hamilton, and yes, Toronto.
Watch Shazam! on Netflix Canada
10. Brokeback Mountain
Brokeback Mountain is a groundbreaking neo-western that depicts the romance between two cowboys played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Compassionate, heartbreaking, and intense, the film garnered almost universal critical acclaim and went on to win several awards including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay at the 78th Academy Awards. Director Ang Lee makes extensive use of the traditional Western landscape as a metaphor for masculinity and loneliness. Ironically enough, however, the Canadian Rockies in Southern Alberta stand in for the U.S. state of Wyoming.
Watch Brokeback Mountain on Amazon Prime Video
Technically, Deadpool is the most Canadian film on this list. Candian-born Ryan Reynolds plays the Canadian superhero and merc with a mouth Deadpool in a film shot entirely in Canada. The anarchic superhero film depicts the antics of the fourth-wall-breaking Marvel character as he hunts the person responsible for his mutant powers. Shot entirely in Reynolds’ hometown of Vancouver, Deadpool is an enjoyably cheeky counterpoint to the usually timid MCU films.
Watch Deadpool on Disney+
Christopher Nolan’s epic sci-fi hit depicts the desperate attempts of a crew of astronauts looking for a new home for humanity as the earth becomes increasingly inhabitable. While most of the film was shot on soundstages, the sequences that take place in the dystopian rural dustbowl were shot in the province of Alberta. The filmmakers made extensive use of Nanton, Longview, Lethbridge, Fort Macleod, and the Seaman Stadium in Okotoks.
Watch Interstellar on Netflix Canada
13. Mean Girls
The critical and financial hit, Mean Girls, is set in Illinois and shot in Toronto. The cult-favourite teen-comedy was written by 30 Rock creator and star Tina Fey and is loosely based on the self-help book, Queen Bees and Wannabes.
Watch Mean Girls on Amazon Prime Video
14. Good Will Hunting
This 1997 drama tells the story of Will Hunting, a South Boston janitor who happens to be a mathematical genius. It would be sacrilegious for a film so quintessentially Bostonian to not be filmed at least partially in Boston. Fortunately, the majority of external scenes for the film were shot in and around Massachusetts in the United States. However, many of the scenes set in and around Harvard and MIT were shot at the University of Toronto.
Watch Good Will Hunting on Crave
15. Hairspray (2007)
This 2007 musical is an adaption of the stage play of the same name, itself an adaptation of the 1988 film by transgressive auteur John Walters. In the film, Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) pursues stardom as a dancer on a local television dance show and ends up fighting for racial integration in 1960’s Baltimore. As you’ve no doubt gathered despite being set in Baltimore, Hairspray was filmed entirely in Hamilton and Toronto. This was largely for practical reasons as Baltimore lacked the soundstages necessary for the musical numbers.
Watch Hairspray on Netflix Canada
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