Day 6

37 years after John Rambo's debut, First Blood is still big business in Hope, B.C.

Sylvester Stallone's Rambo: Last Blood opened in theatres on Friday. Meanwhile, Hope, B.C., the town where the series' first film was shot, is still dining out on First Blood.

'It has a huge economical impact on Hope,' says Tracy Paynter

Adriana Barraza plays Maria Beltran alongside Sylvester Stallone as Rambo in Rambo: Last Blood. (Yana Blajeva/Lionsgate)
Listen6:39

Rambo may be returning to the silver screen this weekend, but for the town of Hope, B.C., he's been a staple for nearly four decades.

That's because the 1982 blockbuster was filmed in the town two hours outside of Vancouver, and has turned Hope into a tourist attraction since.

"It has a huge economical impact on Hope," said Tracy Paynter, who works in the town's visitor centre.

"It brings tens of thousands of people a year here from all over the world, and they're eating, they're staying overnight, they're shopping. It's fabulous for Hope."

Rambo: Last Blood was released on Friday. It's the fifth instalment in the series about war hero John Rambo, made popular by Sylvester Stallone.

In the nearly 40 years since the original movie, First Blood, first hit theatres, Hope has become a hotspot.

According to the town's tourism board, each year, tourists numbering three times the Hope's population of 6,200 visit filming locations, take pictures and re-enact scenes. 

Hope has also been credited as the birthplace of "Hollywood North" for its role in First Blood, says Brian McKinney, who also works in the visitor's centre. The film boom in B.C. started after the 1981 production in Hope, he adds. 

When visiting Hope, some lucky fans get the chance to meet and pose with the town's "Mr. Rambo," played by McKinney, who calls himself a huge fan of Hope, but less so the film that was shot there.

McKinney has been known to dress up as the iconic character for special events. But he's modest about how well he resembles the original.

"I don't quite have the physique," he told Day 6 with a laugh.

Working in the visitor's centre, McKinney will often help visitors navigate the town's Rambo-specific offerings. Among the options is a guided tour with one of the film's extras, town fire chief Tom DeSorcy.

"I get a chance to go and meet them and get a chance to, maybe, tour them around some of the sights," DeSorcy said.

In First Blood, DeSorcy played a state trooper brought in to help search for Rambo. He was a part of the film's iconic gas station explosion.

According to DeSorcy, despite a half-dozen films filming in Hope each year, none has had the impact First Blood had on the community.

Despite the film's age, Paynter says the love for Rambo is so pervasive in Hope even kids get in on the fun.

"Kids in Hope dress up like Rambo for Halloween. It's not just ... middle-aged people. There seems to be a new fan base growing of younger folks," she said.


To hear more from Tracy Paynter, Brian McKinney and Tom DeSorcy, download our podcast or click 'Listen' above.

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