Northern exposure: 5 movies set in Canada
TORONTO — Canada is known as Hollywood North because so many movies are made here — with Canadian cities typically doubling for American ones.
Sometimes, Canadian producers partner with Americans, or others, for big screen projects (2010’s Canadian-German flick Resident Evil: Afterlife and 1982’s Canadian-American comedy Porky’s are two notably successful examples).
Very rarely, Canada plays itself in movies. For example, 2008’s The Love Guru and 2010’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World both took place in Toronto and 2000’s The Whole Nine Yards and 2001’s The Score were set in Montreal.
Movies actually set in Canada rarely do well at the box office (The Love Guru, Scott Pilgrim, The Whole Nine Yards and The Score made a combined $308 million — or roughly the same as 2002’s Toronto-shot film Chicago).
In honour of Canada Day, here are five movies that were released outside of Canada that take place in Canada.
Canadian Bacon (1995)
This comedy that pokes fun at relations between Canada and its southern neighbour was directed by Michael Moore and was the last released film starring John Candy. It was shot in southern Ontario and in northern New York. The cast included Alan Alda, Rhea Perlman, Rip Torn, Jim Belushi and Kevin Pollak. Dan Aykroyd makes a cameo as a police officer and Moore shows up as a redneck. Canadian Bacon failed to sizzle at the box office, earning only $164,000.
Strange Brew (1983)
Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas brought their popular SCTV characters Bob and Doug McKenzie to the big screen in this comedy about a pair of “hosers” who land a job at a bottling plant run by a sinister man (Max von Sydow) who spikes the beer with a mind-control drug. Moranis and Thomas co-wrote and co-directed the flick, which was made in Southern Ontario. Strange Brew earned a decent $8.6 million at the box office, eh.
Grey Owl (1999)
Pierce Brosnan starred as Archibald Belaney, the real-life Brit who migrated to Canada in the early 20th century and adopted the titular First Nations identity. Directed by Richard Attenborough in Quebec and Saskatchewan, Grey Owl also starred Canadians Annie Galipeau and Graham Greene. The $30 million movie was a flop, though. It made less than $633,000.
Dudley Do-Right (1999)
This romantic comedy starred Brendan Fraser (who lived in Ottawa and Toronto) as the dim-witted Canadian Mountie in pursuit of the bank-robbing Snidely Whiplash (Alfred Molina). Sarah Jessica Parker and Eric Idle also starred. Partly shot in Vancouver, the movie tanked at the box office with less than $10 million.
The Shipping News (2001)
This drama, based on the 1993 novel by E. Annie Proulx, follows a New York State man (Kevin Spacey) who moves to Newfoundland to rediscover his roots following a series of tragic events. Directed by Lasse Hallström, it also starred Judi Dench, Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett and Canada’s Gordon Pinsent. The film was made in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland but managed to make a mere $24 million.
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