The razzle-dazzle of Hollywood began seeping north in the late 1960s, with the $500,000 budget studio film That Cold Day in the Park, starring the long forgotten Sandy Dennis and Michael Burns.

Now, nearly four decades later, there's little that's forgettable about Vancouver's place in global film production. The city is the third-busiest (after Los Angeles and New York) shooting location on the continent, but that's not to say the Lower Mainland always plays herself. Vancouver frequently stands in for better-known metropolises, like New York City (L.A., it seems, usually plays itself), and so it's no surprise that Hollywood North last year brought over $900 million into the province.

Top Five B.C. Productions in 2007* 1. Night at the Museum—Ben Stiller, Dick Van Dyke , Mickey Rooney, Robin Williams (Box office: $571.1 million; budget: $110 million) 2. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer—Jessica Alba (Box office: $235 million; budget: $130 million.) 3. Shooter—Mark Wahlberg (Box office: $91.3 million; budget: $61 million) 4. Stargate SG-1—Season 10 (TV) 5. Smallville—Season 6 (TV)

Among the city's most popular shooting locations are Vancouver Art Gallery, Stanley Park, the downtown core, and Vancouver International. Have you, when watching a slick cinematic production, ever had the feeling the setting looked familiar? This is the Vancouverite's "a-ha" moment—and as film continues to expand in the province, the feeling can only increase.

Here are some of my "a-ha" moments:

1) Fantastic Four. The "Baxter Building." Hmmm, looks vaguely familiar. Oh, right—it's the Marine Building, at Burrard and West Hastings. There's a quick shot near the end of this trailer.

2) John Woo's Paycheck, starring Ben Affleck. Where do I know that LRT train from. Ah, yes—it's the SkyTrain. Our friendly neighbourhood TransLink makes another brief cameo in this movie trailer, with shots from the Lonsdale Quay bus loop, in North Vancouver.

3) Al Pacino has 88 Minutes to live, and he's wandering around Yaletown. It wouldn't be my first choice, but to each his own. You can catch a glimpse near the end of the trailer—I'm guessing Smythe and the Helmcken?

A Rodney Rowland fan put together a montage of his favorite clips from The Sixth Day, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. All of these clips were shot in Vancouver—at BC Place, GM Place, and the Public Library.

Pregnant Juno (2007) has a magical moment at Coquitlam Shopping Centre. (Who hasn't?)

Vancouver is quickly becoming a stage for Bollywood’s bright coloured, spontaneous song and dance spectacles. Robson street, and scenic Whistler was the set for 2005’s Neal 'N' Nikki ($2-million budget), the story of a couple who fall in love in Vancouver and takes a road trip out to the B.C.’s world-class ski resort.

Films Rolling Through Town This Winter (B.C. Film Commission)
  • Cats & Dogs 2—Chris O’Donnell, Paul Rodriguez, Jack McBryer
  • Damage—Steve Austin
  • Farewell Atlantis—John Cusack, Amanda Peet
  • Frankie and Alice—Halle Berry
  • Tooth Fairy—Dwayne Johnson, Ashley Judd

For more on B.C.'s film industry, head over to B.C. Film Commission to keep updated with new film shootings in the area and for industry contact information.

For a list of common B.C. buildings, locations and landmarks used as movie backdrops, go to Wikipedia's List of filming locations in and around Vancouver or view Vancouver Illustrated.

* Source: Business in Vancouver