The city of Toronto, alongside Vancouver, have been given the unofficial title of “Hollywood North,” and it’s easy to see why. Canada’s largest city was deemed a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts in 2017, has 5,737 listings on IMDb under its belt – ranking fourth most-filmed city in the world, and is the third largest screen-based production centre in North America, just behind Los Angeles and New York. Hollywood North has made great strides in its own right within the global television and film market, with billions of dollars of investment backing it up, so it comes as no surprise to wonder just how it has affected its southern counterpart: The United States’ very own Hollywood.
Toronto’s advantage as a diverse and flexible landscape for filming locations has shone through on countless occasions, making it a popular destination for shooting. This has allowed the city to substitute for multiple locations, including Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C. and more, with valuable tax credits making it an even more attractive choice. As a result, the artistic metropolis has played host to several famous Hollywood hits, including Guillermo del Toro’s award-winning The Shape of Water. Other famous Hollywood blockbusters such as Total Recall, Hairspray, Mean Girls, Chicago, Pacific Rim, My Big Fat Greek Wedding and most notably Suicide Squad were also filmed in Toronto.
Filming for Murdoch Mysteries on location within Toronto.
Additionally, many American television shows have been shot in Toronto, among them being The Handmaid’s Tale, Murdoch Mysteries, Degrassi, Queer As Folk, Orphan Black, Suits, and American Gods. Even now, the second instalment of the IT horror film series along with the TV series The Umbrella Academy are being filmed in Toronto. In fact, a lot of Hollywood productions have been shot in Toronto under the guise of a generic American city, which goes to show that Toronto’s urban environment continues to be an asset.
Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto.
The Toronto film and television industry is also home to a large number of talented individuals. According to ACTRA, a whopping more than 25,000 full-time workers in front of and behind the camera are under the industry’s employment. Some of these individuals have also moved down south, both making a name for themselves as well as contributing to Hollywood’s wide array of talent. Among them are actors and actresses – Mark Myers, Will Arnett, Keanu Reeves, Catherine O’Hara and Shay Mitchell to name just a few. Even Drake had a short-lived role as wheelchair-bound Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi before he moved on to the world of music.
Many directors and filmmakers who have made their career in Hollywood also have a background in Toronto; among them include David Cronenberg, famous for his work on The Fly and Crash, Ivan Reitman, the director of Ghostbusters, and most notably Norman Jewison, known for directing works such as Moonstruck and Hurricane. It’s not just directors, either. Many writers born and bred in Toronto have also made their mark on the Hollywood industry, the more well-known being Jim Carrey and John Candy. With a well-established appreciation for the arts, it’s not hard to see how Toronto’s production of talent has impacted Hollywood film and television.
Toronto’s film industry is surging in production, and it’s no secret that it’s due to the immense diversity of natural landscapes and urban streets and buildings, tax incentives and the cheaper Canadian dollar luring in many foreign productions, including a majority from Hollywood down south. Hollywood North doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon, either, and it can be expected that relations between both big film industries will likely strengthen as Toronto continues to contribute to Hollywood’s success, and vice versa.