To any city-dweller, it is no surprise that many famous and award-winning movies, short films and television shows were shot and filmed in Toronto. Often, Toronto landmarks and neighbourhoods are transformed into New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia or another East Coast and Midwestern American metropolises. In fact, Toronto is one of the top five locations for screen-based productions in North America.
The success of Toronto’s film industry can be attributed to a number of factors including tax incentives, concentration of talent, availability of studios and post-production facilities and accelerated access to government and municipal filming permits.
This is a guide to top screen productions that were shot in the GTA.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
Good Will Hunting was a 1997 feature length film directed by Gus Van Sant. It featured the all-star cast of Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Minnie Driver, Stellen Skarsgard and Robin Williams and received nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. The movie won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and was listed as one of The Hollywood Reporter’s 100 Favourite Films list.
Although Good Will Hunting is set in Boston, many of the scenes were shot at various locations on The University of Toronto’s campus and at the campus of Central Technical School off Bathurst street. Both schools were staged to be the campuses of Harvard and MIT. At U of T, the Whitney Hall residence building, Wycliffe College and the McLennan Physics building can all be spotted at different points in Good Will Hunting.
The Virgin Suicides (1999)
This dramatic film, written and directed by Sofia Coppola premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999 and received positive reception.
The film was shot in Toronto as stand-in for a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. A famous location from the movie, The Lisbon House is located on Dunloe Road in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighbourhood. Although the film remains fairly nondescript in terms of locations, other Toronto landmarks including Varsity Stadium at The University of Toronto and Monarch Park Collegiate Institute can be identified.
American Psycho (2000)
This psychological-horror film, starring Jared Leto, Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon and Willem Dafoe was, despite its name, was filmed almost entirely in Toronto.
In the movie, Toronto is portrayed as Manhattan. In the almost twenty years that have passed since American Psycho’s release, most of the shooting locations have shuttered or changed hands. Some of the spots can still be seen or haven’t changed entirely shifted, such as The Toronto-Dominion Bank Tower at 66 Wellington Street West, Michael’s on Simcoe Steakhouse, The Consort Bar and Biff’s Bistro.
Mean Girls (2004)
This epic teen-dramas was filmed almost entirely in Toronto. The movie is portrayed as taking place in Evanston, Illinois but most of its shots were taken at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute and Malvern Collegiate Institute in The Beaches neighbourhood. Other notable Mean Girls locations include The University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall and Sherway Gardens Shopping Centre in Etobicoke!
Cinderella Man (2005)
This Academy Award winning biographical film was mostly shot in various parts of Toronto and disguised to portray 1930s New York City. One interesting aspect of this was that two historic “Peter Witt style” TTC streetcars were employed during filming and placed on existing tracks.
Other Toronto locations in Cinderella Man include; The Bay department store on Richmond Street portrayed as Madison Square Gardens, a slice of Queen Street East between Broadview and Carlaw streets staged with old-fashioned cars and various points in the Distillery District. All of Cinderella Man’s fight scenes are filmed at Maple Leaf Gardens and the main apartment is actually a building north of St. Clair Avenue on Lauder Avenue. Additionally, the movie’s dock scenes were shot in at the Hamilton harbour.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Filming for this Marvel classic was primarily done in Toronto because (as legend has it) then-mayor David Miller is a big fan of The Hulk and was instrumental in securing certain downtown filming locations. The iconic Hulk and Blonsky fight was produced on Yonge Street, battle sequences were filmed at The University of Toronto, Morningside Park and the Financial District and additional scenes and factory shots were taken in Hamilton, Ontario.
Scott Pilgram vs. the World (2010)
Characterized by producers as being the biggest movie that is identifiably set in Toronto, Scott Pilgram vs. the World pays homage to many Toronto landmarks. Casa Loma, St. Michael’s College School, The Toronto Public Library’s Wychwood location and the Baldwin Steps at Spadina Park on Davenport Road.
Additionally, the several identifiable spots in The Annex neighbourhood (specifically in and around Bathurst street) can be seen in the movie. The Pizza Pizza location at Bathurst and Bloor, The Green Beanery across from it and the adjacent psychedelic mural that is now the facade for the Bloor street Bombay Roti restaurant.
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