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  • Movies Made in Toronto

Made in Toronto

Our city plays a leading role in some of Hollywood’s biggest successes.


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Movies allow you to visit the past, explore new cities and escape to new realities, or so the magic of film would have you believe. As the Toronto International Film Festival has grown, so too have the number of Hollywood blockbusters filmed right here in Toronto. We’ve had Oscar winners, box-office smashes and the occasional Hollywood flop. Does your favourite film have a Toronto connection or feature an unplanned megacity cameo? Check out our round-up of a few of the flicks that have helped Toronto earn the title of “Hollywood North.”


Toronto and Hamilton double as Baltimore in the filming of the star-studded, Hairspray.  This newly released production is a musical based on the 1988 feature by the same name and stars John Travolta, Queen Latifa, Michelle Pfeiffer.

Fun fact: A busy block of Dundas Street West in Toronto was shut down and transformed into 1962 Baltimore. Toronto was chosen as a filming location because it still has electric streetcars, while Baltimore has since discontinued them.

X-Men (2000)

Arguably one of the best known Hollywood blockbuster to film in Toronto is X-Men , filmed at locations across the city and in Ajax, Burlington, Hamilton, Oshawa and Sudbury. Professor Xavier’s school for the gifted is really Casa Loma and Roy Thomson Hall . Also, the meeting of world leaders was filmed at Central Commerce Collegiate and the Senate hearings at the Metro Hall Council Chambers. The Distillery Historic District , one of Toronto’s most popular filming locations, helped set the scene for the concentration camp.

Rumour has it: While filming the train car sequences, the film’s director, Bryan Singer, was mistaken for an onlooker and asked by a local policeman to leave the set.

CHICAGO (2002) – Oscar Winner

Starring Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and the city of Chicago, this film was almost entirely shot in Toronto. The Distillery , Elgin Theatre , Old City Hall , Casa Loma and the Danforth Music Hall worked to bring 1920s Chicago to the big screen. The film went on to win six Academy Awards including best picture.

Fun fact: The Elgin Theatre also hosts many star-studded TIFF premieres, most recently The Corpse Bride, Brokeback Mountain, Capote and Transamerica , in 2005. ( translation : Elgin Theatre is a great star-spotting locale during TIFF)

Good Will Hunting (1987) – OSCAR WINNER

This movie, which launched the careers of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon was filmed at the University of Toronto , Central Tech High School, Ontario Specialty Co. and the Crown Life Building. And, the Harvard college bar where Will humiliates the history student is the Upfront Bar and Grill on Front Street. - “How do you like them apples?”

The Fly (1986) – OSCAR WINNER

Filming locations in the Toronto area for this sci-fi wonder included John Anderson Charcoal Broiled Hamburgers on Yonge Street. The film took home the Oscar for “Best Make-up” in 1987.

Fun fact : Director David Cronenberg was born in Toronto and studied literature at the University of Toronto. He also directed A History of Violence ; which filmed in Toronto and surrounding areas.

Cinderella Man (2005)

When this film came to town sections of Richmond Street and Queen Street East were transformed into 1930s New York. The Hudson’s Bay Department Store on Richmond Street served as the Madison Square Garden exterior. Other filming locations in Toronto included The Distillery , Maple Leaf Gardens (the boxing scenes), and the Ontario Heritage Centre.

Fun fact: The TTC’s historic Peter Witt streetcar and two more streetcars from the Halton County Radial Railway Museum in Milton were used for the film.

A History of Violence (2005)

Parts of this film set in Philadelphia were actually filmed in Toronto. Locations included: Stoopy’s Tavern on Dundas Street East and Humber Sheppard Community Centre on Weston Road.

Fun facts :
  • When Tom Stall drives to Philadelphia you can spot a Canadian speed limit sign.
  • A History of Violence was a Gala Presentation at TIFF 2005.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002)

Once again Toronto stands in for Chicago. Filming locations included the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church (outdoor church shots), St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church (indoor church shots), and Ryerson University . The Harry S. Truman College is actually the Rogers Communications Centre and the school where Ian Miller teaches is Kerr Hall.

Fun facts:
· In one scene, a Canada-Post mail truck is visible outside the travel agency window.

· The restaurant across the street from the travel agency, Pappas Grill , is a well-known Greek restaurant on Toronto’s Danforth Avenue.

· Nia Vardalos, who wrote and starred in the film, studied acting at Ryerson University.

Glitter (2001)

Starring Mariah Carey, Glitter is often considered one of the worst films of all time and was nominated for six Razzies (not a good thing). Filming locations included Phoenix Concert Theatre , Capitol Theatre , Hummingbird Centre and the Silver Dollar Room.

Rumour has it: You can see the CN Tower and Rogers Centre in the background of what is supposed to be New York City. (At least I have been told, not being among the select few who have actually viewed this sparkling gem of a movie.)

Skulls (2000)

Skulls had teenage girls searching Toronto for the film’s star Joshua Jackson (a.k.a. Dawson’s Creek heartthrob Pacey Witter). Filming locations included the University of Toronto and The Distillery . The final dueling scene was set in Guildwood Park in Scarborough .

Rumour has it: According to The Internet Movie Database (IMDB), you can see the red lights of Toronto’s Sutton Hotel in the background of the university scenes.

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Starring Canadian Sarah Polley, Dawn of the Dead was shot at various locations in Toronto and around Ontario including Ashbridges Bay in The Beach.

Rumour has it : A burning boat scene filmed in the Ashbrdiges Bay was mistaken for a real fire.

American Psycho (2000)

Lead character Patrick Bateman went a little psycho at various locations around the city including The Senator Restaurant and several local clubs.

Fun fact : Director Mary Harron is from Toronto.

Pushing Tin (1999)

Toronto filming locations included Pearson International Airport and The Amazing Ted’s Restaurant in Scarborough.

Rumour has it: According to IMDB, while Nick and Connie are driving to lunch, they drive past a building with a VIA Rail Canada logo on it.

Fun fact: It was on this set that Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie first met -- the two later married.

The Santa Clause (1994)

Remember the zoo Scott and Charlie visit? That’s the Toronto Zoo. In one scene, father and son are standing in front of the underwater viewing area for the polar bears and in a second, one of the zoo’s own reindeer starts following them home.

Fun fact : Eric McCormack, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman are among the stars who have visited the Toronto Zoo.

Adventures in Baby Sitting (1987)

This ‘80s classic set in Chicago was filmed at various locations around Toronto including the Silver Dollar Room , where a young Elisabeth Shue performs “Babysitting Blues.”

Rumour has it: According to IMDB, right before shooting a scene in which the stars run through a dirty, trash-filled alley, City of Toronto employees came by and cleaned it up. So, the crew had to dig through local dumpsters for more trash.

Fun facts:
  • While in Chicago's downtown, Sara walks by a Scotiabank -- whoops!
  • This was director, Chris Columbus’ directorial debut. Columbus went on to direct: Home Alone, Rent, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone .

Short Circuit 2 (1988)

Filming locations in Toronto included The Eaton Centre and World’s Biggest Book Store.

Rumour has it :
  • Although set in New York City, when Ben is selling his toys at the beginning you can see a TTC sign.
  • According to IMDB, at the end of the film when the chase has led Johnny 5 to the harbour, you can see the CN Tower in some shots.

Serendipity (2001)

Although set in New York and San Francisco, Serendipity was filmed in the Toronto area. Locations included the Royal York Hotel , Rosewater Supper Club , Little York Books & Café on King Street East, Senator Restaurant and the neighbourhoods of High Park, Yorkville, Chinatown and Cabbagetown.

More film in Toronto fun facts :
  • Freddy vs. Jason (2003) was the first Freddy movie not filmed in the U.S
  • Death to Smoochy (2002): Not even stars Robin Williams and Edward Norton, nor the backdrops of The Distillery , Maple Leaf Gardens, and the CBC building were able to save this film.

  • A Christmas Story (1983): The red trolleys driving by the tree lot are Toronto’s own.
  • Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005) The cast filmed scenes at Stoney Lake Resort (1.5 hours east of Toronto) and stayed in cottages there during production.

  • The Incredible Hulk  (2008) movie is being filmed in Toronto with a scheduled release for next year.

Want to find out more about what’s filmed in Toronto?
Internet Movie Database:
City of Toronto Film and Television Office:


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