Film industry in Hamilton, Ontario
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Many of these productions have chosen Hamilton as their home base because of regional tax incentives. As well, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced in December 2007, that the 'Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit' for domestic producers, would increase as well as the 'Ontario Production Services Tax Credit' benefitting foreign production.
Hollywood actors who have filmed in Hamilton in 2006 and 2007 include: Don Cheadle, Jeff Daniels, Michael Keaton, Harvey Keitel, Eugene Levy, Dolph Lundgren, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Madsen, Steve Martin, Edward Norton, Chris O'Donnell, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Plummer, Randy Quaid, Tim Roth, Martin Sheen, John Travolta, Mark Wahlberg, Christopher Walken, Ellen Page, Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Spacey, Kelly Preston and Robin Williams.
Hamilton also figures prominently in a number of TV commercials. In the May 2008 Lotto 6/49 commercials, people were doing their "happy dance" all over town. Brown cows took over James Street South at Main for a chocolate milk protest. ING used the historic bank building at Main and James as their backdrop, and TD Canada Trust has filmed in Gore Park. An ad for Aero chocolate bars featured floating chocolate bubbles over various locations downtown. Burlington Street has been used for automobile commercials. Also, Hamilton is home base for a number of new and returning TV shows including ReGenesis, Jeff Ltd., MVP and Would Be Kings.
McMaster University president Peter George joined Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty on a 17-day trip to India in January 2007. The trip was intended to lure the country's $1.7-billion film industry to shoot in Ontario, a.k.a. Hollywood North.
Also in 2007, the city launched a new ad campaign called "HAMILTON: FILM, Why Shoot Anywhere Else?" Awards have been received from the Association of Film Commissioners International and the Economic Development Association of Canada.
Film & culture activity
|Year||# of Productions||Prep, shoot & wrap days||Direct impact|
Local TV station CHCH introduced Canadians to Smith & Smith, which featured Steve and Morag Smith (the former better known from his stint as Red Green). The Hilarious House of Frightenstein was a Canadian children's television series which was also produced by CHCH in 1971. It was syndicated to television stations across Canada and the United States, and occasionally still appears today in some TV markets. The show's cast included Billy Van, Fishka Rais, Guy Big, Mitch Markowitz, Vincent Price, and Julius Sumner Miller. One hundred and thirty episodes of the series were made in a nine-month span starting in 1971. Don Cherry's Grapevine began airing on CHCH TV in the 1980s and shot on location at CHCH TV's Telecentre on King Street West and then at CHCH's main studio on Jackson Street West. The production then moved (including the original set and bar) to the restaurant Cherry had in town, also called "Don Cherry's Grapevine". The restaurant was on Main Street East. CHCH also produced local broadcasts such as Tiny Talent Time and Party Game.
Power Play was a Canadian television drama series that aired on CTV from 1998 to 2000. The show starred Michael Riley as Brett Parker, a former New York City sports agent who became the general manager of a (fictional) National Hockey League franchise, the Hamilton Steelheads.
A number of Hamiltonians played a part in the early development of Hollywood, including Jean Adair (1873–1953), Julia Arthur (1868–1959), Douglass Dumbrille (1889–1974), and Florence Lawrence (1890–1938) who was a silent film actress and often referred to as "Hollywood's First Movie Star". She was also known as "The Biograph Girl" and "The Girl of a Thousand Faces". During her lifetime, Lawrence appeared in more than 270 films for various motion picture companies. Del Lord (Grimsby, Ontario) was an early Hollywood film director and actor, best known as a director of Three Stooges films. Interested in the theatre, he travelled to New York City; when fellow Canadian Mack Sennett offered him a job at his new Keystone Studios, Lord went on to work in Hollywood, California. There he played the driver of the Keystone Kops police van, appearing in several of the successful films.
Modern-day contributions to Hollywood by Hamiltonians include SCTV alumni Eugene Levy, Martin Short, and Dave Thomas. All three attended McMaster University along with John Candy in the 1970s. Well-known movie directors and producers in Hollywood from Hamilton are Daniel Goldberg (Space Jam, Twins) and Slovakian-born, Canadian-raised Ivan Reitman. Reitman is most remembered for directing and producing a string of comedies, mostly in the 1980s and 1990s (Meatballs, Stripes and Ghostbusters). Reitman is also a founder of the McMaster Film Board at McMaster University. Reitman and Goldberg have worked together in the past on a number of film productions and continue to work together today as partners in the production company Northern Lights Entertainment. Others include Kathleen Robertson, best known for her work on 90210(1994-1997) and 2002 crime film Torso: The Evelyn Dick Story and Stana Katic best known for her role as Detective Kate Beckett on ABC's Castle.
Many of the streets of Hamilton are used for a number TV/ film shoots. Some examples of these are listed below:
In 1999, Detroit Rock City, starring the rock group Kiss, was filmed at the Copps Coliseum arena on Bay Street North. In 2004, Copps Coliseum was used again to film Meg Ryan's Against the Ropes.
In 2000, LIUNA Station reopened the James Street North Canadian National rail station as a banquet hall. In 1996 the station was used for the most expensive film ever made in Canada to that time, The Long Kiss Goodnight, which cost US$$95,000,000 to make and starred Samuel L. Jackson. Also in 2000, X-Men, featuring Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, shot some of its scenes at LIUNA Station. Also that year, parts of Sean Connery's Finding Forrester was filmed inside the gymnasium of Cathedral Secondary School on King Street East and Copps Coliseum arena stands in for Madison Square Garden in the film.
In 2001, the Steven Seagal film Exit Wounds used the streets of Downtown Hamilton for a period of six weeks for a night shoot of the movie's climatic chase scene that features the Gore Park water fountain and the Hamilton GO Transit station (the original site of the Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway from 1892 to 1987). At the same time, around the corner, the second unit was shooting a rapid-fire car crash involving a motorcycle, a car, and a couple of dumpsters. Downtown Hamilton had been invaded by the cast and crews of "Exit Wounds," but no one seemed to mind and even though it was the middle of the night, a huge crowd was on hand to cheer the performers on.
In 2005, zombie movie Resident Evil: Apocalypse was partly filmed at the Hamilton Cemetery on York Boulevard, across the street from Dundurn Castle and Dundurn Park. Also in 2005 the Mark Wahlberg film Four Brothers was filmed mostly in Hamilton's North End neighbourhoods, north of the Canadian National Railway lines, and featured Stelco and Dofasco's steel mills as a backdrop. Also that year Ron Howard's Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe filmed the dock workers scene on the boardwalks of one of the piers of Hamilton Harbour.
In 2006, the Disney film Firehouse Dog was filmed at the old Westinghouse headquarters building (1903–1997), on Wentworth Street North, (entrance one block east on Sanford Avenue) which featured the firehouse dog jumping off the roof of the burning building.
In 2007, the film The Incredible Hulk was filmed on Main Street East — a two-week night shoot that featured the film's climatic fight scene between the Hulk and Abomination. Temporary buildings were erected by the film's crew on parking lots behind the Royal Connaught Hotel building on the north side of Main as well as across the street on the southwest corner of Main and John Streets. The streets of Hamilton were made to look like Harlem, New York. The film was released in June 2008.
The DeLuxe Restaurant was a nostalgic 1950s-style diner found on King Street (Dundas), used primarily for film shoots. A number of feature films and television productions have been shot there in Dundas. In 2006 the NBC television serial drama, The West Wing, directed by Christopher Misiano and starring Jimmy Smits and Bradley Whitford was shot here at this location.
Also in 2006, Man of the Year, a political thriller/comedy movie directed by Barry Levinson and featuring Robin Williams and Christopher Walken was shot here. As well, Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front, the third movie in The American Girl Movie Collection, tagged as a Disney Channel Original Movie was shot here. It was directed by Joyce Chopra and stars Molly Ringwald.
In 2007, parts of Closing the Ring, a film directed by Richard Attenborough and starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Neve Campbell was shot in Dundas and at the DeLuxe Restaurant. Also in 2007, CIBC Bank used the restaurant for a TV commercial shoot. After years of sitting closed and serving the film industry on occasion, the DeLuxe Restaurant underwent extensive renovations and opened as Thai restaurant Bangkok Spoon in 2009.
All of the "Good Witch" films were filmed in and around Dundas.
January 2014 saw the official opening of a new 4000 sq ft film, TV and web series production studio delivering a full service option for the independent filmmaker. Operated by Digital Canaries as one of its 2 Hamilton locations  and located at 270 Sherman Ave North. In July 2015, Digital Canaries Studios moved to 520 Burlington St. E., a 66,000 sq ft facility of studio spaces, standing sets, green screens, props and wardrobe department.
In March 2008, a brand new film studio opened up on 525 Parkdale Avenue North called, Steel Work Studios. It was supposed to be a full service film studio with 13 departments to meet the needs of the TV and film industry which included a talent agency for Extra's and talent called, 'Cast In Steel.'. The group involved with Steel Work Studios were very optimistic about the studio noting that in 2007 TV and film was a $1-billion industry in Ontario and 40% of that was in Hamilton, Ontario. Three months later the facility closed down and no official word was given for its closure.
In recent years there has been talk of converting the 500,000-square-foot (46,000 m2) facility on Victoria Avenue North that was one time home of the Otis Elevator Company and Studebaker plant into a Mega-Film Studio. In 2004 a group of local investors were ready to open up the $30-million facility named Hamilton Film Studios but pulled out two months after it opened up. One of the main reasons was they overestimated the appeal of the site, in that the interior had too many support beams, making the space impractical for productions requiring wide, uninterrupted expanses.
The following is a partial list of films and television programmes shot in Hamilton, Ontario, and their release dates:
- Hailey's Gift (1977 Family); Barry Morse, Kate Parr
- Strange Brew (1983); Rick Moranis, Dave Thomas
- Youngblood (1986); Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves
- Hearts of Fire (1987); Bob Dylan
- Amerika (1987 TV mini series)
- Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman (1989); Lee Majors
- The Cutting Edge (1992); D. B. Sweeney, Moira Kelly
- The Air Up There (1994); Kevin Bacon
- Camilla (1994); Bridget Fonda, Jessica Tandy
- Canadian Bacon (1995); Alan Alda, John Candy
- The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996); Samuel L. Jackson
- "Power Play" (1998-2000 TV series); Michael Riley
- The Big Hit (1998); Mark Wahlberg, Lou Diamond Phillips
- Detroit Rock City (1999); Rock group KISS
- New Jersey Turnpikes (1999); Kelsey Grammer
- The Third Miracle (1999 Drama); Ed Harris
- The Time Shifters (1999 TV Sci-Fi/Action); Casper Van Dien
- Daydream Believers: The Monkees Story (2000)
- Gone in 60 Seconds (2000); Nicolas Cage, Robert Duvall, Angelina Jolie
- Rated X (2000); Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez
- X-Men (2000); Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart
- Finding Forrester (2000); Sean Connery
- Laughter on the 23rd Floor (2001 TV Comedy); Nathan Lane
- Brian's Song (2001 TV movie)
- Exit Wounds (2001); Steven Seagal
- Glitter (2001); Mariah Carey
- Sins of the Father (2002 docudrama), Tom Sizemore, Richard Jenkins
- Our America (2002 TV Drama); Vanessa A. Williams
- John Q (2002); Denzel Washington
- Avenging Angelo (2002); Sylvester Stallone
- Death to Smoochy (2002); Robin Williams
- Global Heresy (2002); Peter O'Toole
- RFK (2002 TV Drama); Linus Roache
- Second String (2002 TV Comedy/Drama); Jon Voight
- The Limit (2003 Crime Drama); Lauren Bacall, Henry Czerny
- Wrong Turn (2003); Desmond Harrington
- Bulletproof Monk (2003); Chow Yun-Fat
- How to Deal (2003); Mandy Moore
- Spinning Boris (2003); Jeff Goldblum, Anthony LaPaglia
- Direct Action (2004); Dolph Lundgren
- Saint Ralph (2004); Adam Butcher
- Prom Queen: The Marc Hall Story (2004 TV movie)
- Against the Ropes (2004); Meg Ryan
- Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004); Milla Jovovich
- The Confessor (aka: The Good Shepherd) (2004); Christian Slater
- Land of the Dead (2005); Dennis Hopper
- The Man (2005) Samuel L. Jackson, Eugene Levy
- Cinderella Man (2005) Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger
- Zoom (2005); Tim Allen, Courteney Cox
- Riding the Bus with My Sister (2005); Rosie O'Donnell
- Four Brothers (2005); Mark Wahlberg
- Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (2005); Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt
- Lie with Me (2005 Drama/Romance); Lauren Lee Smith, Eric Balfour
- Terry (2005 TV Movie); Shawn Ashmore
- Swarmed (2005 TV Movie); Michael Shanks
- Plague City: SARS in Toronto (2005 TV movie)
- Solar Attack (2005 Sci-Fi/Thriller); Louis Gossett Jr.
- Shades of Black: The Conrad Black Story (2006 TV Drama); Jason Priestly
- The Last Sect (2006); David Carradine
- It's a Boy Girl Thing (2006 Comedy/Romance); Samaire Armstrong, Kevin Zegers
- Man of the Year (2006); Robin Williams, Christopher Walken
- Silent Hill (2006); Radha Mitchell, Sean Bean
- The Path to 9/11 (2006 TV Movie); Harvey Keitel
- Firehouse Dog (2006 Disney); Bruce Greenwood
- Snow Cake (2006); Sigourney Weaver
- Away from Her (2006); Julie Christie, Gordon Pinsent
- "The War At Home" (2006 TV Series); Rob Lotterstein
- American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile (2006 Universal)
- Skinwalkers (2006); Jason Behr
- UKM: The Ultimate Killing Machine (2006 Horror); Michael Madsen
- "The Tracey Fragments" (2007 Drama); Ellen Page
- The Four Horsemen (2007)
- American Pie Presents: Beta House (2007 Comedy); John White, Steve Talley
- Hairspray (2007 Musical); John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer
- Talk to Me (2007 Bio-drama); Don Cheadle, Martin Sheen
- Pigs (2007 Comedy/Drama); Jefferson Brown, Darryn Lucio
- Final Draft (2007 Horror); James Van Der Beek, Darryn Lucio
- Weirdsville (2007 Comedy/drama); Matt Frewer
- Closing the Ring (2007); Christopher Plummer, Shirley MacLaine
- Final Draft (2007); Jeff Roop
- Left for Dead (2007 Horror); Steve Byers
- The Poet (2007 Drama); Jonathan Scarfe
- The Company (2007 TV Drama/Thriller mini-series); Michael Keaton, Chris O'Donnell, Alfred Molina
- The Incredible Hulk (2008 Action/Drama/Sci-Fi); Edward Norton, Tim Roth
- Flash of Genius (2008); Greg Kinnear
- Traitor (2008 Drama); Jeff Daniels, Don Cheadle
- XIII (2008 Action, TV mini-series); Val Kilmer, Stephen Dorff
- Right Hand Man (2008 Crime, TV); Joe Mantegna
- Weapon (2008 Action); Bruce Greenwood
- The Time Traveler's Wife (2008 Sci-Fi/ Romance); Eric Bana, Rachel McAdams
- Splice (2009 Sci-Fi); Sarah Polley, Adrien Brody
- The Summit (2008 TV Drama/ Thriller mini-series); Christopher Plummer, Wendy Crewson
- The Good Witch (2008 TV Family); It starred Catherine Bell and Chris Potter.
- Max Payne (2008 Action Thriller); Mark Wahlberg, Beau Bridges, Chris O'Donnell, Mila Kunis
- Real Time (2008 Comedy/drama); Randy Quaid
- The Last Hit Man (2008 Crime); Joe Mantegna, Elizabeth Whitmere
- Amelia (2009 Drama); Hilary Swank, Richard Gere
- Repo Men (2009 Sci-Fi Thriller); Jude Law, Forest Whitaker
- Defendor (2009 Comedy/Drama); Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas
- The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day (2009 Action/Comedy); Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus
- Kick-Ass (2009 Action Comedy); Nicolas Cage, Aaron Johnson
- You Might as Well Live (2009 Comedy); Joshua Peace, Michael Madsen
- The Con Artist (2010); Sarah Roemer
- Casino Jack (2010); Kevin Spacey, Rachelle Lefevre
- Resident Evil: Retribution (2011); Milla Jovovich
- Red Lights (2012 Drama/Horror/Thriller); Robert De Niro, Cillian Murphy
- Jesus Henry Christ (2012 Comedy); Toni Collette, Michael Sheen
- Mama (2013 Horror); Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
- The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013 film); Lily Collins
- Kick-Ass 2 (2013) Superhero, Action, Comedy; Aaron Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey
- RoboCop (2014)
- Crimson Peak (2015); Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam
- Pixels (2015); Adam Sandler, Peter Dinklage, Josh Gad
Incredible Hulk, film shoot, Main Street East
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