Hollywood North

Last week Peter and I went to our second movie in as many years. There were 10 of us altogether in a theatre meant to hold at least 200. Needless to say, we felt very safe. The movie was ideal – passionate romance, beautiful clothes, exotic scenery, lots of red herrings, and an elusive killer. We had just finished dinner and had to pass on the popcorn. But otherwise it was perfectly entertaining.

But it was not one of the movies nominated for an Academy Award. We decided to watch the Oscars on Sunday night anyway, not wanting to miss any of the action. The women wore the usual glamorous gowns showing lots of cleavage. Many of the men went all out, wearing velvet tuxedo jackets in navy or forest green, and there were a couple of daring guys wearing suits with decals. One had flowers all down one side of the jacket and pants, and another had butterflies in the same places. John Travolta had neither tuxedo nor hair. Imagine all those slicked-back wavy locks with sideburns – all gone!

There were the predictable emotional moments when old stars showed up: the 3 amigos from the Godfather era, Liza Minelli in a wheelchair, supported by Lady Gaga, a song of hope dedicated to the people of Ukraine. And the highlight of the night – Will Smith slapping Chris Rock, then blubbering like a baby afterwards, calling for love and peace. Despite cutting some awards, the show was still 3 1/2 hours long. Well past our bedtime.

We live in a city that is known worldwide as Holly wood North, a good place to film movies. Why? Because: we have a large pool of talented multicultural actors. We have thousands of professional sound engineers, animators, designers, editors, and other technicians. The industry has created partnerships with 11 Toronto high schools, which can be used as locations and for education co-op placements. The city has over 2 million feet of studio space and, best of all, the city provides film and TV tax credits.

So, with all those advantages, what movies have been made in Toronto?Here are a few:
The Shape of Water, a sci-fi romance filmed in 2017, won the Academy Award for Best Picture. The setting is supposed to be Anywhere, but University of Toronto buildings, the Elgin Theatre ,the facade of Massey Hall, and other streets were used to film this movie.

Good Will Hunting, a 1997 film about a mathematical genius, also used U of T buildings but substituted them for Harvard and MIT. This movie won an award for best screen play.

Chicago, filed in Toronto in 2002, also won the Best Picture award. It was the story of Chicago in the 1920’s and many Chicagoans were outraged that Casa Loma, Queen’s Park, the Distillery District, all stood in for real Chicago buildings.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding, filmed in 2002, used the Danforth’s Greek Town of course. St. Nicholas Ukrainian Church was chosen for the wedding.

Suicide Squad, filmed in Toronto in 2016, was the top-grossing box office hit that year and made over $784 million. This movie featured a plane crash on Yonge St and a helicopter crash on Bay St. Aha! there’s a reason for all those potholes!

And there are several other movies that have been filmed here. One to watch for next year is called Turning Red. You may have seen the trailers. It’s an animated movie about a teen-age girl who turns into a big red furry panda whenever she gets upset. This movie really is meant to take place in Toronto. You can see the streetcars on King, the eclectic stores in Kensington Market, and the CN Tower often in the background. No missing the location of this one. The director calls it a “love letter to Toronto.”

So, even if you are not a fan of the Oscars, you might want to follow this movie as it casts Toronto into the movie spotlight once more.


2 thoughts on “Hollywood North

  1. You made me laugh out loud :”This movie featured a plane crash on Yonge St and a helicopter crash on Bay St. Aha! there’s a reason for all those potholes!”
    If I was Will Smith I would hand back my Oscar and say something along this lines: “My apologies to all especially to Chris Rock. I realize I made a bad mistake. I got emotional and forgot how to control my emotions. As an actor I should know this better.” I think if he does this giving back his Oscar he will gain back his name and will become a good role model. But many tell me EGO will not allow him to do this. Let’s see what comes out of it.


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