Here’s one of those left field questions you don’t ponder everyday-When is Toronto not Toronto? Maybe a few answers come to mind, but one is when our city serves as a stand-in location or backdrop for any number of movies filmed here but set elsewhere.
Thanks to cost effective production and a variety of great restaurants, nightlife, and celebrity-filled VIP events, Toronto has a knack for luring in out-of-town film crews for Tinseltown makeovers. It has even been dubbed “Hollywood North”. Often cast as a northernly US metropolis such as New York, Chicago, or Washington, D.C., Toronto has earned her stripes as a chameleon of cityscapes.
Unfortunately, most moviegoers don’t recognize our beloved local sites when Toronto masquerades as another city on screen. To help bring awareness to Toronto’s starring role as a substitute city, let’s take a look at six blockbuster hits filmed here.
Three Men and a Baby (1987)
A slapstick, feel good tale of three party hardy bachelors brought together by fate to raise a baby abandoned in their apartment building could only transpire in New York City, right? Well, maybe yes in the alternate reality of the movies, but this fan favourite comedy was partly filmed at Toronto locations like Royal Alexandra Theatre, the Financial District, and the pool at John Innes Community Recreation Centre.
Good Will Hunting (1997)
The movie that transformed Matt Damon and Ben Affleck from Hollywood hopefuls to household names takes place in Boston. While a number of scenes were in fact filmed there, several Toronto area institutions of higher education provided interior settings. University of Toronto buildings Knox College, Whitney Hall, and St. Michael’s College are all featured, as are Wycliffe College and Central Technical High School.
Half Baked (1998)
One of those cult classics that could’ve only come from the ’90s, Half Baked features the harebrained shenanigans of several stoner buddies, most notably Dave Chappelle in one of his most memorable roles. While the film was set in New York, Toronto factored heavily with scenes shot locally at the TD Centre, the RC Harris Filtration Plant, and Dundas Street West.
Urban Legend (1998)
An underappreciated entry into the teen slasher genre, Urban Legend explored the world of dubious lore with deadly results. While viewers were led to believe the story took place at a small college in New Hampshire, actual filming was done on the University of Toronto campus and Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital.
The first film installment in comic legend Stan Lee’s X-Men series proved that the route to the silver screen often passes through Toronto, even for superheroes. Our favorite haunts appearing in the film are the Gooderham-Worts Distillery, the Metro Hall Council Chamber, and Central Commerce Collegiate.
Surprisingly, this Oscar-winning musical comedy was not filmed in its namesake city. Toronto convincingly fills in for the Windy City and lends a bevy of landmarks to the movie including Osgoode Hall, the Elgin Theatre, Union Station, and the Danforth Music Hall.