Hamilton's year in film: These productions brought money, recognition to the city in 2021

The Hamilton Film Office was expected to break records for the number of film productions and film-related revenue brought into the city this year. Many big-name blockbusters filmed all over the city — in some very recognizable spaces.

The Hamilton Film Office was expected to break records this year

Cate Blanchett and Bradley Cooper in the film Nightmare Alley. (Kerry Hayes/Searchlight Pictures)

Do you ever wonder what could be filming in your own backyard? 

This year, the Hamilton Film Office was expected to break records for the number of film productions and film-related revenue brought into the city. 

In 2021, many big-name blockbusters filmed all over the city — in some very recognizable spaces.

Nightmare Alley, out in theatres now, is one of them. Directed by Guillermo del Toro, it tells the story of carnival man Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper) who fools the rich alongside a psychiatrist (Cate Blanchett) and her husband. 

Other big names in the movie include Rooney Mara and Toni Collette. 

The film is set in New York, but its filming locations in 2020 and early 2021 included the Hamilton Cemetery, the Cotton Factory and the Rebecca St alley. 

Richard Jenkins and Bradley Cooper in Nightmare Alley. (Kerry Hayes/Searchlight Pictures)

In a 2017 press conference at the Toronto International Film Festival, del Toro was passionate about his love for Hamilton, and cited it as a "transforming city," and even said he'd be interested in having his own studio in town someday. 

Nightmare Alley is one of five films that del Toro has filmed in the city, others including The Shape of Water and Crimson Peak. 

Other productions filmed in Hamilton this year, according to the Internet Movie Database, include Chucky, based on the Child's Play film franchise and is the sequel to Cult of Chucky. It premiered in October. 

The new season of Netflix's Locke and Key, still yet to premier, follows three siblings who, after the murder of their father, find mysterious keys that unlock doors in their house in magical ways. Fans may recognize Hamilton's Playhouse Cinema in the acclaimed series. 

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, released in November, was also seen filming at Scottish Rite late in 2020. 

The star-studded LGBTQ rom-com My Fake Boyfriend, featuring Keiynan Lonsdale, Dylan Sprouse and Sarah Hyland was seen filming around Hunter Street East and Catharine Street South, and then at Hess Village. The film is expected to be released in the summer of 2022. 

This year also saw the filming of Rosie, a movie written and directed by Indigenous director Gail Maurice. 

Best known for her role on the CBC series Trickster as Georgina, Maurice's new project filmed here in the fall. The short film originally came out in 2018, but this expanded, feature film version is set to be released next.

As for what's to come in making Hamilton a film production hub? The new Bayfront Studios was set to launch earlier this year — the Hamilton Spectator reported it was open by July — part of Aeon Studio Group's plans for a "studio district" in the city. 

Earlier this year, Hamilton Music and Film Office received a nomination from Los Angeles-based Location Managers Guild International for its assistance in the popular Netflix show The Umbrella Academy (though it didn't win in October)The Netflix series has filmed in popular places in the city, such as Ottawa Street North and city hall. 

Kimberley Adrovez manages Hamilton's film office and told CBC Hamilton earlier this year that filming in the city has grown significantly since 2017.

Last year was set to be a record-breaking year, but the pandemic paused filming for four months. Still, she said, the industry did a good job avoiding much disruption.

"We didn't actually lose any business. It all just got deferred," she said.

with files from Bobby Hristova


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