British Columbia

The birthplace of Hollywood North? Hope B.C. celebrates 35th anniversary of Rambo: First Blood

The town took a trip down memory lane with special screenings of the 1982 film along with tours and costume contests. 'I see all of my small hometown in every frame. It just gives me goosebumps,' says visitor centre ambassador.

Town takes trips down memory lane with special screenings, tours and costume contests

Hope B.C. with its rugged geography was the backdrop for the 1982 movie Rambo: First Blood. Over the 2017 Thanksgiving weekend, the town celebrated the 35th anniversary of the film. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

B.C's film industry is booming these days, and one town in the Fraser Valley is taking the credit for getting it going 35 years ago. 

Hope, B.C., continues to celebrate the role it played in the Sylvester Stallone film, Rambo: First Blood as well as bringing other film productions to the province.

"Here we are 35 years later in what's basically the birthplace for Hollywood North," said Brian Mckinney, who works at the town's visitor centre.

The film was released in 1982. It's about John Rambo, a troubled Vietnam War veteran who goes to war with the abusive police force in the fictional town of Hope, Washington.

Ian Davidson Newby was a military consultant on the movie. For the anniversary party on Oct. 8, 2017, he came dressed as Brian Dennehy's character, Sheriff Will Teasle. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, residents and fans watched two screenings of the movie, took tours of where filming took place, and checked out props that were used.

Some even competed in costume competitions, while reflecting on what the film meant for the town.

Hope B.C. continues to celebrate the role it played, not only in the Sylvester Stallone film, Rambo: First Blood, but in bringing other film productions to the province. 0:49

McKinney says up to 20,000 people pass through Hope each year to see where Rambo was shot.

For him, though, the movie has helped define where he grew up and lives.

"It brings back great childhood memories," he said.

"I've got friends who are in the movie, I've got friends who have lines. I see all of my small hometown in every frame. It just gives me goosebumps."

The iconic motorcycle Sylvester Stallone rode as John Rambo in the film. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Rambo: First Blood was a winner at the box office. Film crews spent around $1 million locally to make the film, which was great for Hope's economy at the time, and also for B.C.'s.

Today, B.C.'s film industry is at an all-time high, bringing billions of dollars into the province each year.

The province estimates that $2.6 billion will be spent in 2016-2017, compared to the previous year's $1.9 billion.

And residents in Hope say the industry might not have ever gotten to that point if not for the gritty, long-haired war hero with the headband and big knife known as Rambo.

With files from Jon Hernandez