From New York to Chicago (and more futuristic worlds than I can mention), movies based in cities all over the world are actually filmed in Canada’s biggest city: Toronto. With a skyline that can transform into whatever city you need, and low production costs, it’s totally normal to walk around Toronto and bump into a movie scene ready to be shot. As a bit of a movie buff (and proud Torontonian), I thought I’d share my five top spots for star-spotting in “Hollywood North”.
1. The Distillery District
One of Toronto’s most popular neighborhoods, the Distillery District is awash with awesome cafes and restaurants, and loads of interesting architecture, and just so happens to be the second largest film location outside of Hollywood. You can recognize the main gates of the neighborhood in the first scene of the first X-Men movie (it’s supposed to be somewhere in Poland in 1944), and the Distillery’s streets in movies like Chicago and The Cinderella Man (both movies starring Renée Zellweger.) Today the Distillery is one of Toronto’s top tourist attractions and hosts great art and music festivals throughout the year.
2. Casa Loma
This Gothic Revival style residence in Toronto resembles a majestic castle and is located only minutes away from downtown Toronto. Built as the residence of financier Sir Henry Mill Pellatt, it was turned into a museum after he lost it and now serves as a very popular film location. You can see the exterior and interior of the castle in scenes of movies like X-Men – as Professor Xavier’s School for the Gifted – and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Casa Loma has a self-guided tour of the property and the gardens, but you can also get one of their personalized tours and get more info about the movies, commercials and TV Shows that were shot there. The list includes Chicago, Pacifier, RoboCop, The Love Guru, Being Erica, Nikita, and many others.
3. Yonge Street / Yonge and Dundas Square
Once listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest street, Yonge Street can be seen in movies like Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2. For an idea of how Toronto will look like in the future, the movie Repo Men (starring Jude Law and Alice Braga) is set in a futuristic Toronto, showing Yonge and Dundas Square with flying trains and bright lights advertising revolutionary products. The fictional company that Jude Law works for in the movie is also set inside the Eaton Centre.
4. Allan Gardens Conservatory
Looking for a place to relax and be closer to nature? The Allan Gardens Conservatory is a cast-iron and glass greenhouse located in one of Toronto’s oldest parks and it is open every day of the year. The entrance is free and you can check out their permanent collection of plants and flowers from all over the world any day you want from 10am to 5pm. If you’ve seen the movie Chloe (that is entirely set in Toronto and featuring Julianne More, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried) you can see Allan Gardens in one of the most important scenes of the movie.
5. The EF Toronto neighborhood
Yes, that’s right. The EF Toronto neighborhood is commonly used as a film location because of its cool alleyways filled with street art, and cafes and clubs that can be transformed into almost any spot in any country in the world. During summer you can see trucks of movie production and dressing room trailers for stars parked near the school, and there’s a good chance that you’ll catch a movie or TV show being shot there on any given day. A couple of months ago the Canadian TV show The Listener was being filmed in our hood and EF students were there – at the heart of all the star-studded action.