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Just a two-hour flight from Hollywood, Vancouver has become the third largest centre for the film industry in North America -- hence its nickname, "Hollywood North." After all, the movie industry pumps $1 billion a year into the local economy, and with flicks like the new Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian and Twilight: New Moon being shot here, word is out that Vancouver is picking up the glitter of its American Tinseltown sister.
Chalk it up to lower production costs or a climate conducive to all-year shooting. Either way, Vancouver has become a hit with movie producers and, by extension, movie stars. This actually isn't a completely new thing. In fact, celebrity lore has tangled with Vancouver since the days when Gary Cooper hitched a ride back to the Fairmont Hotel on a passing street-cleaning machine.
Celebrity Spotting in Vancouver
Today, spotting a celebrity in Vancouver has gotten a lot more common. Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman and more have explored the city when they're not filming, frequenting Vancouver joints like Blue Water Café + Raw Bar (Alicia Silverstone, Jamie Lee Curtis, Uma Thurman), CinCin Ristorante (Ben Affleck, Naomi Watts, Macy Gray, Justin Timberlake) and Tojo's Restaurant (William Shatner, Eddie Murphy, Morgan Freeman).
Of course, movie stars have to sleep somewhere. If you're completely obsessed, you can always try camping out at one of the hotels that celebrities love:
A lot of people express surprise about Vancouver as a filming destination, and they're even more surprised when we rattle off some of the blockbusters touting Vancouver credentials. Here are five that we like:
Starring: Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman
We like Juno because it's a lot like Vancouver: sort of indie, endearingly geeky at times, a little quirky, romantic and ultimately heartwarming. You might recognize the school scenes that were shot at Vancouver's Eric Hamber Secondary School.
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Famke Janssen, Anna Paquin
There's nothing like the Vancouver wilderness to inspire mutant adventure. Some scenes from the other X-Men movies were shot in the city, but X-Men: The Last Stand features such easy-to-recognize landmarks as Vancouver Art Gallery and the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Twilight: New Moon(2009)
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene
When the Twilight crew came to Vancouver in March 2009 to shoot New Moon, it was one of the most highly anticipated events in the city. Vancouver was abuzz about potential filming locations, and packs of crazed teenagers were prowling the city in search of vampire celebs. If you see the movie, look for scenes shot in Stanley Park and Kitsilano.
Saving Silverman (2001)
Starring: Steve Zahn, Jack Black, Jason Biggs, Amanda Peet
It's inevitable that a cast like the one in Saving Silverman to create an epic laugh track, especially with its ridiculous plotline (Zahn and Black try to save Biggs from an über-aggressive Peet). Plus, Vancouver is everywhere in the movie: Granville Island, Jericho Beach and Cannery Seafood House all make prominent appearances in the film.
First Blood (1982)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy
This classic wasn't shot in the city obviously, but Golden Ear Provincial Park, known as one of the best camping spots in Vancouver, was the setting for much of the first Rambo film. Just think: you can go camping where Rambo went postal!