The Ever-Growing Film Industry in Toronto

As a media student here at Ryerson, I have always been interested to hear when there are new films shooting in and around Toronto. It is always exciting to hear when a big film or TV series has come to our city to film, fueling the industry and providing opportunity for the people of Toronto. 

I can recall a night in my first year at Ryerson, going out with some friends and walking down Yonge Street looking for a place to eat when all of a sudden we had been transported back in time. We looked around us and the street was lined with cars from the 1940s. Later on, we found out that we had stumbled into a film set for Guillermo Del Toro’s new film “Nightmare Alley” featurings stars Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett and more. After this, I was even more intrigued to learn about what other projects had been filmed in this city that we were living in. I was surprised to learn about some of the films I have loved and are quite well known that have been shot here in Toronto. So here is a list of a few of the most well known movies that have been shot in the GTA.  

Mean Girls

To start, we have the 2004 teen comedy “Mean Girls” directed by Mark Waters. Starring Lindsay Lohan, and Canada’s own Rachel McAdams. I am sure there are not many people between the ages of 15 and 25 that don’t know this film. But I am also sure that many of those people probably never realized that a great deal of this film was in fact shot in the GTA. At Etobicoke Collegiate Institute to be exact. The institute is located in the Islington neighbourhood of Toronto. In these photos you can see scenes from the film (on the left) and then the actual location at the institute (on the right).

Image Credit: Pinterest, Fandom.com, AcoToronto.ca

X-Men

Next there is the X-Men movie made in 2000 directed by Bryan Singer. This film features stars like Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart. In this film we see multiple locations all over the GTA, the most notable spots include Distillery District, Metro Hall, Casa Loma and Parkwood Estate. Again, below you can see some photographs from scenes in the movie (on the right) and their GTA locations (on the left).

Image Credit: timeout.com, torontoise.com, hartschairs.com, kitchenerpost.ca, pinterest.ca

Suicide Squad

The last film I was especially intrigued to have found out shot partially in Toronto was the 2016 Suicide Squad movie driected by David Ayer. This film has some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and many others. As seen below, there were many locations in Toronto where this film was shot, including Yonge-Dundas Square, Union Station, Bay Station and the Skywalk between Union Station and The Rogers Center.

Image Credit: torontolife.com, torontoist.com, tripadvisor.ie, iheartradio.ca, wikipedia.org, blogto.com

A few other well known movies that shot in Toronto:

  • The Shape of Water (2017) directed by Guillermo del Toro
  • Hairspray (2007) directed by Adam Shankman
  • Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse (2004) directed by Alexander Witt
  • Good Will Hunting (1997) directed by Gus Van Sant
  • Shazam! (2019) directed by David F. Sandberg


So to conclude, I think that there is a misconception when it comes to filmmaking in Canada. Many people think that they need to move out to Hollywood to make a career in the entertainment industry. People don’t always realize that there is an ever-growing and evolving industry right here in our city. According to Toronto.ca in 2018 the film, television and digital media industry created over 30,000 jobs for the people of Toronto, with over 1,400 projects made. That is a lot of opportunity for people to build careers right here in the city of Toronto. And while, of course the industry took a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, production is beginning to open back up and creators are back at it bringing Toronto to the big screen.

Posted in Blog.

Katie (She/her) is a 3rd-year media production student with a love for film, TV and books. You can find her spending her free time exploring everything Toronto has to offer and finding as many ways as possible to be creative and have fun with friends. She is passionate about learning how storytellers are telling stories in new ways and how the industry is evolving. She is excited to write about young artists, shining a light on some of the incredibly talented people in the industry today and share them with you here on SpiritLive!