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15 movies you didn’t realize were filmed in Canada

The best films shot in Hollywood North

Credit: IMDB

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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.

1. Chicago

Renne Zellweger as Roxie Hart in Chicago.
Credit: IMDB

A grand total of zero scenes for this 1992 musical were shot in Chicago.

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

The Incredible Hulk
Credit: IMDB

Filmmakers shot The Incredible Hulk’s climate battle scene on Yonge Street in Toronto.

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

3. Titanic

Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) kissing on the deck of the HMS Titanic.
Credit: IMDB

While most of the filming took place in the U.S., certain pivotal scenes in Titanic were filmed off the coast of Nova Scotia.

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

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4. Juno

Juno (Eliot Page) riding a bike.
Credit: IMDB

Juno was shot in Vancouver on the insistence of director Jason Reitman.

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

Elisa (Sally Hawkins) embraces The Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) in The Shape of Water.
Credit: IMDB

Guillermo Del Toro filmed his Oscar darling almost entirely in Toronto.

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

Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) in Twilight: New Moon.
Credit: IMDB

Filmmakers used various locations in Vancouver and the surrounding area to replicate the misty forests of the Pacific Northwest.

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

The Losers Club meeting on the main street of Derry, Maine.
Credit: IMDB

The Port Hope Municipality in Ontario stood in for the fictional town of Derry in this terrifying adaptation of Stephen King's IT.

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

Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) dressed as an airline pilot talking with Carl (Tom Hanks).
Credit: IMDB

In Catch Me If You Can, the city of Montreal acts as a convincing facsimile of Montrichard in France.

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

9. Shazam!

Shazam (Zachary Levi) and Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) watching fireworks on the steps of the Philadelphia museum of art.
Credit: IMDB

Shazam! is a rare DC comics film that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

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

Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) stands alone beside a river with the mountains in the background.
Credit: IMDB

Ang Lee and cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto used the Canadian Rockies to great effect in this groundbreaking film.

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

11. Deadpool

Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) being launched into a car with a city skyline in the background.
Credit: IMDB

Filmmakers shot Deadpool in Ryan Reynolds’ home city of Vancouver.

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+

12. Interstellar

A pickup truck partially buried in sand outside a dilapidated farmhouse.
Credit: IMDB

Christopher Nolan filmed Interstellar’s earthbound scenes in Alberta.

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

Cady (Lindsay Lohan), Karen (Amanda Seyfried), and  Gretchen (Lacey Chabert) being doused by a fire extinguisher.
Credit: IMDB

Mean Girls has gone on to become a cult classic of the teen comedy genre.

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

Will (Matt Damon) cleaning the floors at MIT.
Credit: IMDB

The University of Toronto was the filming location for many pivotal scenes in 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

Watch Good Will Hunting on Amazon Prime Video

15. Hairspray (2007)

Tracy (Nikki Blonsky) singing as she walks through the streets of Baltimore, Maryland.
Credit: IMDB

“Good Morning, Toronto”

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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