Vancouver Island is quick to charm Hollywood producers. Old-growth forests, remote beaches, seaside character towns, and dramatic wilderness landscapes make for prime big screen backdrops. Here are 10 major motion pictures and shows that have been filmed on Vancouver Island.
Vancouver Island is becoming a go-to locale for Hollywood producers looking for rugged West Coast terrain and charming seaside towns for blockbuster hits. It’s no wonder why, too. But don’t take our word for it, take Jason Momoa’s. During a recent interview with CTV’s etalk, Jason sounded quite enamored, “I’ve never spent as much time as I had on Vancouver Island…it was phenomenal. Those people are winning. Everyone on Vancouver Island is winning.”
This dystopian drama is set 600 years in the future and features iconic Northern Vancouver Island locations to play the part. SEE, a new Apple TV+ series starring Jason Momoa, best known for his role as Khal Drogo on Game of Thrones, tells a story of human adaptation to a world where sense of sight is lost. The dramatic mountain landscape of Strathcona Provincial Park, including Myra Falls and Buttle Lake, all make an appearance and help to transport viewers to a remote wilderness in this must-see drama.
Sonic the Hedgehog
The iconic video game franchise, SEGA, first released Sonic the Hedgehog in the early ‘90s. Now, this blue superspeed hedgehog is making his mark in Hollywood with a movie adaptation. During filming, a 12-kilometre stretch of Vancouver Island’s Highway 19 was shut down and became the set for a high-speed car chase. You can watch Sonic run from the military and Dr. Ivo Ronotnik, played by Hollywood star and Canadian icon Jim Carrey, as they race down this tree-lined roadway. Ladysmith, just south of Nanaimo, was also transformed into the fictional town of Green Hills, Montana, with crews adding a fresh coat of paint and new signs to storefronts in this small town.
If you thought Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters was a castle in Scotland, you’d be mistaken. This educational institute to train young mutants in controlling their powers is actually the Hatley Castle in Colwood, just outside BC’s capital city of Victoria. This Edwardian fortress was built in 1908 and the exterior made for the perfect X-Mansion while filming Deadpool, which stars Vancouver-born Hollywood A-lister, Ryan Reynolds.
Vancouver Island, the largest on the West Coast of North America, is home to some unbelievably remote places. Hidden inlets, small isles, and coastal regions that are only accessible by floatplane or boat are scattered across more than 31,285 square kilometres. In this reality TV series, contestants are dropped off in the most rugged, inaccessible, and inhospitable locations to survive on their own, for as long as they can, with only a few provisions and their own survival skills. Three of six Alone seasons have been filmed in Quatsino Territory near Port Hardy on Northern Vancouver Island, but good luck finding exactly where.
War for the Planet of the Apes & Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
What is more ironically Hollywood than Planet of the Apes? Vancouver Island has been lucky enough to play as a backdrop in two of these ethereal films. A massive crew of filmmakers, Parks Canada staff, and local First Nations helped find the perfect locations around Tofino, Ucluelet, and Campbell River to create otherworldly scenes. Long Beach, in Pacific Rim National Park, was featured prominently and many of the local waterfalls, beaches, and cliffs made an appearance across the big screen including Lupin Falls, just outside Campbell River.
In this TV drama, adapted from a popular book series, BC’s West Coast acts as a stand-in for the East Coast. Set in Maryland but filmed in Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Nanaimo, and Nanoose Bay, three seasons of this family drama took over Vancouver Island. Discover these 12 Must Visit Chesapeake Shores Filming Spots and relive the TV drama all over again.
In this Warner Bros. classic, Vancouver Island becomes a replacement for San Francisco and Northern California locales to bring Godzilla to life. Film producers and crew were particularly enamored with the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island (SVI) and its No. 128 locomotive. The train was chased down by Godzilla as it snakes through the trestles and canyons of Goldstream Provincial Park and past the spectacular scenery between Parksville and Duncan. The Cambie Pub in Nanaimo made an appearance too, transformed into a makeshift military operation base in the film.
Twilight Saga: New Moon and Eclipse
Remember the moment Jacob was outed as a werewolf in Twilight Saga: New Moon? In this hit book series, made into a blockbuster Hollywood saga, Tofino’s sprawling Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park was the set for this tense scene. With a backdrop of Incinerator Rock, Jacob and Bella share a moment surrounded by the rugged beauty of the West Coast of Vancouver Island. The spectacular flat rocks of the Nanaimo River also became the backdrop for scenes in the Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
This chilling drama stars Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody as a car crash survivor who ends up stuck in a ravine with no idea how he got there. Wrecked producers first eyed Squamish before director, Michael Greenspan, made a visit to his in-laws in Oak Bay, just outside Victoria, and quickly shifted gears to Vancouver Island. Parksville became the perfect backdrop, with Little Mountain, Mount Prevost, Englishman and Nanaimo rivers all making appearances while downtown Duncan became set to a car chase and bank robbery scene.
X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men: The Last Stand
Hatley Castle makes an appearance again in the X-Men movies as Professor Xavier’s X-Mansion. In real life, this National Historic Site is home to the administrative offices of Royal Roads University. Both on and off screen, it seems the Hatley Castle keeps to educational traditions.