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BC’s diverse topography of cities, deserts, rainforests, mountains, and beaches makes it a popular place for movie-makers to call “Action!” Numerous TV series and films have been shot in the province. Here are some of the most popular film backdrops—and best locations for star-spotting.
“Hollywood North” is a star attraction for filmmakers looking for a North American cityscape: Vancouverites regularly see “snow” in summer, a NYC taxi cruising around Gastown, or supernatural beings fighting crime.
Vancouver morphed into Metropolis in Smallville to tell the story of Clark Kent’s early life. Hit shows such as The 100, Supernatural, Arrow—and its spin-off The Flash—have been filmed at atmospheric locations, such as the disused Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam. Many of the alien encounters in The X-Files (up to series five and the 2016 reboot) were filmed in the forests around Vancouver. Aldergrove in Langley is home to the set of the infamous Bates Motel, where the TV show (a prequel to Hitchcock’s Psycho) is filmed.
Shows such as iZombie and the US remake of The Killing show downtown Vancouver as “Seattle.” The city has also appeared as our American neighbour in romantic movies such as the Fifty Shades trilogy movies, which shot key scenes at the Bentall Tower, Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, UBC, and Gastown.
Vancouver’s infrastructure also stars in films—from the stunt sequences of Deadpool, filmed on the Georgia Street viaduct, to the collapse of the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Final Destination 5’s opening credits.
Since 2011, seaside Steveston has transformed yearly into Storybrooke, Maine, for ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Steveston’s Moncton Street receives a mythical makeover for filming, but Romania Country Bread keeps its Storybrooke Country Bread sign up year round. Moncton Street was also a location for the new Power Rangers film in which Elizabeth Banks stars as villain Rita Repulsa (due out in 2017). It’s not just superheroes that visit Richmond—the Riverport area was home to a giant ape prison for the recent filming of War of The Planet of the Apes.
Secrets of Storybrooke: check out the 5:22 mark to learn how Steveston transforms into Storybrooke.
Desert landscapes make BC’s Interior a popular place for TV and filmmakers to shoot far-flung and otherworldly destinations. Walhachin, near Kamloops, stood in for the US desert in The X-Files and The Andromeda Strain, and the arid Elephant Hills landscape near Ashcroft morphed into Texas in the Twilight saga Eclipse, the Mexican desert in The A-Team, and Mexico’s Baja Peninsula in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb transformed the Cache Creek area into Egypt, and Aladdin soared above in Once Upon a Time. The TV show Battlestar Galactica used Kamloops’ desert as “Planet Algae.” Back on Earth, Merritt become small-town Kansas for Superman’s Smallville, and the heritage gold-rush town of Fort Steele had a starring role in Bridget Fonda’s Snow Queen.
BC’s Kootenay Rockies enjoys the limelight, too. Nelson’s heritage buildings set the scene for the Steve Martin classic Roxanne; Nelson, Greenwood, and the surrounding Slocan Valley, were featured in Snow Falling on Cedars. The mountain town of Fernie provided the ultimate ski backdrop for Hot Tub Time Machine. On the horizon, The Mountain Between Us, a new drama starring Kate Winslet, is set to start filming near Invermere in early 2017.
Mountains, glaciers, and remote landscapes make Northern BC an ideal stand-in for Alaska. The 2002 US remake of Insomnia, a critically acclaimed version of the 1997 Norwegian film, brought Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hilary Swank to Stewart and Bear Glacier. And the wintry north of Liam Neeson’s plane-crash drama The Grey was filmed at Smithers and Hudson Bay Mountain.
For more information about filming in BC, check out these movie maps and filming news sites:
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