10 iconic filming locations in Vancouver

Published 8:00 pm Monday, July 18, 2022

Paramount Pictures

10 iconic filming locations in Vancouver

While Vancouver, British Columbia, might be far off from the traditional locations people think of when considering the film industry, the truth is that it’s played an important role in film history since the early 1900s. Often considered a part of “Hollywood North,” Vancouver—and often Toronto—are hubs for movie production. In fact, Vancouver was ranked as North America’s second-best city for film by MovieMaker Magazine partly due to the city’s high quality of life for residents and its impressive number of productions per year (around 400).

The existence of Vancouver Film Studios is also a major benefit as it contains massive production facilities as well as a major special effects stage and visual effects cluster. Of course, the other benefit of filming in Vancouver is utilizing its truly impressive natural beauty and historical metropolitan areas—never mind the numerous tax credit incentives film productions receive from shooting in British Columbia.

With blockbuster films like “Deadpool,” “Twilight,” and critically acclaimed movies like “Okja” all shot in Vancouver, there’s a significant amount of content to sort through. Thankfully, Giggster researched Vancouver shooting locations for you and highlighted 10 places across the city from famous films that you can visit—complete with addresses—on a cinematic pilgrimage.

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Michael Cera and Elliot Page play guitar in ‘Juno’

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Juno’s house in ‘Juno’

– Location: 4550 Crown St

The world of “Juno” is that of small-town rural Minnesota, conveyed through the vision of Canadian American director Jason Reitman and the writing of renowned Midwest screenwriter Diablo Cody (of “Jennifer’s Body” fame). Despite its narrative setting, the movie was actually filmed in Vancouver—a choice that reflects the film’s smaller budget and Reitman’s desire to shoot there based on past work experiences.

Vancouver ended up being the ideal location for filming thanks to its intense weather; the crew had planned on importing fake snow for the winter scenes but instead woke up one morning to find very real snow blanketing the ground and changed their whole shooting schedule to utilize it. Vancouver also provided Juno’s (Elliot Page) home, a centerpiece of the film. With a saturated blue exterior and a warm cluttered interior, this house is where we see J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney as Juno’s father and stepmother. It also includes one of the most iconic teenage bedrooms seen on screen, with Juno’s eclectic blankets, walls plastered with band and movie posters, and of course, the burger phone.

Burrard Bridge in Vancouver

karamysh // Shutterstock

Where Ethan Hunt receives his mission in ‘Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol’

– Location: Burrard Bridge

The seventh installment of the “Mission: Impossible” series titled “Dead Reckoning Part One” is set to hit theaters in July 2023, but for this entry, we’re calling back to the fourth in the series, “Mission: Impossible–Ghost Protocol.” MI4 sees Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) escape from a Moscow prison and embark on a mission across the globe in director Brad Bird’s first live-action film following hits like “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille.” After Hunt’s big prison break, he receives an urgent mission to find a man named “Cobalt” who intends to create nuclear armageddon. And where does he receive this mission? In a phone booth on none other than Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge.

The Burrard Bridge is described as a “symbol of Vancouver’s progress and a mark of faith in the city’s future,” and, due to its inception in 1932, is Vancouver’s oldest surviving bridge. Burrard is completed in the art deco style and functions as a connection between the neighborhoods of Point Grey and South Vancouver, bordering the Burrard Green Streets Garden and the Vancouver Aquatic Center.

Adam Sandler in ‘Happy Gilmore’

Universal Pictures

The ‘Happy Gilmore’ driving range

– Location: Riverway Golf Course & Driving Range, 9001 Bill Fox Way

Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2021, “Happy Gilmore” is a cult classic underdog film starring Adam Sandler as an up-and-coming golfer. The film was actually the second screenplay written by Sandler and long-time friend Tim Herlihy, the first being “Billy Madison,” and takes direct inspiration from the Bill Murray film “Caddyshack.” As it is a golf-centric film, four different golf courses were featured, including the Riverway Golf Course & Driving Range.

Despite being less than 10 miles away from the Vancouver airport, Riverway Golf is technically located in Burnaby, Canada, the third-largest city in British Columbia. Riverway boasts its status as one of the Greater Vancouver Area’s “premier 18-hole championship golf courses,” and each hole varies in length between 5,400 and 7,000 yards. Within the movie’s narrative, Riverway Golf is used as one of the locations for the Waterbury Open, which earns Gilmore a spot on the pro golfing tour he later uses to fight for his grandmother’s house.

Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel in ‘Carnal Knowledge’

Embassy Pictures

Multiple movies at Shannon Mews Park

– Location: 1551 W 57th Ave

Shannon Mews Park was planned in the early 2010s and has since come to fruition as a beautiful sprawling park in Vancouver with a children’s playground, hedge maze, rose garden, and historic mansion. The mansion itself was commissioned by B.T. Rogers, who founded Rogers Sugar, and was completed posthumously in 1925 in the beaux-arts style; it was later rezoned and townhouses and apartments were added to the property. While the mansion was closed to the public until 2020, both the home and the park still have found their way into several films.

Shannon Mews featured prominently in 2004’s “I, Robot” as the house of Dr. Lanning, a robotics creator whose death is being investigated by Will Smith, which eventually gets demolished by an explosion. Mike Nichols uses Shannon Mews’ beautiful architecture in his film “Carnal Knowledge” as an Ivy League college where Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkel attend, and Zach Snyder’s “Watchmen” briefly features the estate as well. It’s not just limited to the silver screen, however, as television shows “Psych” and “Timeless” also feature Shannon Mews in episodes.

A simulated fire engine crash on a replica of Brooklyn Bridge from "Fantastic Four"

Twentieth Century Fox

Multiple movies at Pier 94

– Location: 3 St. Andrews Ave

Pier 94 is a largely unused pier and dry dock in Northern Vancouver and is quite different from many other locations featured on this list. The appeal of Pier 94 is not its setting nor is it anything to do with its maritime purpose but is instead its industrial emptiness, which has proven perfect for film studios to construct various sets and green screen structures within. The previously referenced “I, Robot” is one of the most notable examples of this, as whatever they could not find existing locations for was instead built or projected in sets at Pier 94.

Another film to utilize this location was 2005’s “Fantastic Four,” starring Chris Evans and Jessica Alba, which specifically used the Pier to construct its own Brooklyn Bridge set, which gets overtaken by flames and explosions. It’s unclear whether the Pier will continue to aid film sets in the future, as there was a 2021 proposal by the company Seaspan to renovate the dock for mooring purposes.

Sylvester Stallone in ‘First Blood’

Anabasis N.V.

The police ambush in ‘First Blood’

– Location: Near the Trans Canada Trail on Harris Road, Pitt Meadows

“First Blood” is a 1982 adaptation of a 1972 novel written by David Morrell, starring Sylvester Stallone (who also co-wrote the script) as John Rambo. The film found great success, but it was the character of Rambo, a Vietnam veteran who becomes subject to a massive manhunt, that really grabbed people’s imaginations. There are currently five films following Rambo as well as accompanying video games and an animated series.

In “First Blood,” Rambo is repeatedly hunted by local Washington state police, who eventually set up an ambush for him at the real-life Harris Road, associated with the Trans Canada Trail, in Pitt Meadows. The Trans Canada Trail is considered “the longest trail network in the world,” extending 14,996 miles long and stretching all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Several other trails were featured in “First Blood” as the narrative mostly occurs outside, and for the eager Rambo fan, the blog Feed ’n Flow has put together a “First Blood Outdoor Movie Set Hiking Tour.”

Town of Squamish

Ludmila Ruzickova // Shutterstock

The town of Bearpaw in ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller’

– Location: The town of Squamish

Robert Altman is an acclaimed film director, known for “M*A*S*H,” “Nashville,” and “The Long Goodbye,” but his work on “McCabe and Mrs. Miller” is some of his all-time best. Adapted from the Edmund Naughton novel “McCabe,” Altman manages to illustrate the narrative’s status as both a standard Western and a subversive anti-Western classic. Because the film had all the necessary stereotypes of the genre, Altman was able to alter smaller details, like “maybe they didn’t all wear big hats and speak with a drawl … Maybe the hero was just this normal, well-intentioned, blustering kind of guy who stumbles on the right thing to do.”

The backdrop of the film is the frontier town “Presbyterian Church,” a massive set destroyed after filming. However, the town of Bearpaw where protagonist John McCabe enlists his first three prostitutes is actually a real town named Squamish, found between Vancouver and Whistler. Squamish describes itself as a “mecca for windsurfing, rock climbing, hiking and mountain biking” and The New York Times placed it on its Top 52 Places to Go list in 2015 due to its Sea-to-Sky Gondolas that carry guests up Vancouver summits.

Intersection and clock in Gastown Vancouver

Harry Beugelink // Shutterstock

The alley where Bastian gets cornered in ‘The NeverEnding Story’

– Location: Blood Alley, Gastown

At the time of its production, this West German fantasy film had the highest budget of any film produced outside the U.S. or USSR, coming in at $27 million. This budget allowed for the majority of the film to be shot at Stage 1 of Bavaria Studios in Munich. However, practical locations were used for scenes following a boy named Bastian who stumbles upon a quirky bookstore after being chased by bullies into an alley. It’s in this alley/store that Bastian discovers the book “The NeverEnding Story,” which sparks the plot for the rest of the film, an experience fans can mimic by visiting the real alley in Vancouver.

Known as (the definitely not ominous) Blood Alley, this film setting is located in Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood. Situated on the Vancouver peninsula that borders Vancouver Harbor, Gastown’s heritage architecture makes it a hotspot for film sets aiming for the classic big-city look. Ironically, Blood Alley is about five minutes away from the city block used to film most of the New York City scenes in “Jason Takes Manhattan.”

Craigdarroch Castle in Vancouver

Max Lindenthaler // Shutterstock

The ballroom scene from 1994’s ‘Little Women’

– Location: Craigdarroch Castle, 1050 Joan Crescent

“Little Women” reentered the cultural zeitgeist and endeared itself to audiences in 2019 with Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel—but for older generations, 1994’s “Little Women” fills that role. Directed by Gillian Armstrong, this film has an A-list cast with Winona Ryder, Christian Bale, and Susan Sarandon, and was mostly filmed in and around Vancouver.

One of its locations is Craigdarroch Castle, built between 1887 and 1890 for Robert Dunsmuir, which is an example of a “bonanza castle—massive houses built for entrepreneurs who became wealthy during the industrial age.” This castle provides the background for several extravagant ballroom scenes in the film, including that in which Jo and Laurie meet for the first time, sparking a lifelong friendship. “Little Women” is not the only film to use Craigdarroch, however, as both “The Boy” and “The Boy 2” use the castle as the ominous manor in which a doll named Brahms seemingly haunts its family.

Zachary Gordon in ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days’

Twentieth Century Fox

Multiple movies at Swaneset Bay Resort and Country Club

– Location: 16651 Rannie Rd

Swaneset Bay Resort and Country Club is a staple of Pitt Meadows, a nature-filled municipality of Vancouver, which features two highly renowned golf courses designed by world-famous golfer Lee Trevino and a 65,000-square-foot clubhouse. It’s no surprise, then, that the club was another filming location for Adam Sandler’s aforementioned classic “Happy Gilmore,” where Swaneset serves as the location for the AT&T Invitational where Happy faces off against nemesis Shooter McGavin for the final time.

For Greg Heffley, however, Swaneset is the Plainview Heights Country Club in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.” This film shifts the focus from the extensive greens to the clubhouse, where Greg uses his best friend Rowley’s membership to get closer to his crush and drinks a whopping $260 worth of smoothies. Like several other locations on this list, “I, Robot” also filmed here, as well as Jackie Chan’s “Rumble in the Bronx,” “The Pledge” with Jack Nicholson, and “Blonde and Blonder,” a Pamela Anderson film wherein the titular blondes become involved with the Vancouver mafia.

This story originally appeared on Giggster and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.