Toronto On The Silver Screen
By Elli Davis, July 7, 2011
Movies are a fun topic for discussion. Everyone has their favourites, and many envy the lives of their favourite film characters. Over the years, a large number of movies and TV series have been shot in Toronto, and many of them are very well known. Most, however, are not actually set in the city, so few people know that they are seeing Toronto and not New York City or Chicago, or any of the other cities Toronto portrays. Here are three of the best known films from the past ten years that you might not have known were filmed in our city.
Many people have no idea that the famous 2002 musical starring George Clooney, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Renee Zellweger was shot in Toronto.
Torontonians ought to know, since much of the city can be seen in this film. You might notice Osgoode Hall, Casa Loma, Old City Hall, Queen’s Park, the Danforth Music Hall, the Elgin Theatre, or Union Station. However, as even its title suggests, the most important place in the movie is the city of Chicago in the 1920s. The musical deals with problems such as criminality, corruption, and fame. Having won six Academy Awards in 2003, it belongs among the most positively reviewed cinematic works of the last decade.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The 2002 romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding was set in Chicago but was actually shot both in Chicago and Toronto. You can see Ryerson University, Jarvis High School, the Harbourfront (I remember one of the bridges in the movie is here) and especially Greektown, where many exterior scenes took place (which is only logical) and which is very recognizably Toronto. The love story, about a Greek American woman and a non-Greek man was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2003.
The 2007 film adaptation of the 2002 Broadway musical and 1988 comedy movie turned out to be a financial success and brought much attention to its biggest stars, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah. Even though it is set in 1962 Baltimore, Maryland, the musical dealing with racial segregation was mainly shot in Toronto because, unlike Maryland, our city is very well equipped with sound stages for musical needs. Showline Studios was used for many interior scenes and the majority of exterior scenes were shot at the intersection of Dundas Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue, and at Lord Lansdowne Public School. Did you recognize these places?
If you compare movies shot in Toronto versus those actually set in the city, you see a huge difference. The first category is much larger! Are you asking yourself why Toronto seems to be such an attractive place to shoot films set elsewhere? Next week, I will try to elaborate on this question more in my article, mentioning some of the not-so-successful movies set in our city — unfortunately, there are quite a few of them.
Do you have a favourite Toronto film?