I found myself watching the 1990 action extravaganza Bird on a Wire on Netflix recently. In the film, Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn are on the run from gangsters and corrupt law enforcement in order to clear the former’s name. By car, motorcycle, ferry and crop dusting plane, they cross several states including Michigan, Wisconsin and Missouri, yet in actuality, the film’s producers never left BC where all this zany action was captured.
I’ve often remarked to family and friends that British Columbia has likely doubled for every state in the union over its long film career due to it’s plethora of “looks” (urban, rural, coastal) and enticing tax incentives. While our province can most easily stand in for pacific northwest states like Washington and Oregon, BC has had many turns as New York, California and beyond. To my knowledge, no one has attempted to categorize BC’s film and TV appearances by state. If you want to see a job done…
For this list, I’ve examined over 100 film and television titles shot in BC over the past 40+ years and noted where in the land of the free that they took place. For this first edition, I’ve limited my search to theatrical/streaming films and TV series although the basic cable graveyard that is Movies-of-the-Week may feature in a subsequent edition. I got so many results for Washington state that I had to limit them for the sake of brevity and my sanity. A few surprises like Hawaii and Florida showed up and even states we all forgot were there like Wyoming and North Dakota got their chance to shine vicariously through BC’s lush backdrop.
NOTE: While Washington, D.C is technically not a state, it shows up onscreen far too often not to include.
Superman (Henry Cavill) seeks a shirt in a Ucluelet-flavoured Alaska.
Movies: The Edge, Insomnia, The Fourth Kind, Man of Steel
San Francisco’s Transamerica Building shares some screen time with Vancouver’s Marine Building.
Movies: Who’s Harry Crumb?, X-Men: The Last Stand, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Godzilla, Age of Adaline, Bad Times at the El Royale, Sonic The Hedgehog
TV: MacGyver, The L-Word, Psych, Lucifer, The Good Doctor, Virgin River, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
Movies: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, The A-Team
TV: Stargate SG-1, Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Gabby Duran and the Unsittables
Movies: Happy Gilmore
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Movies: Timecop, X2 , The X-Files: I Want to Believe, Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian
TV: The X-Files, Salvation
The cast of 50 Shades of Grey glides over Delta as Georgia.
Movies: Timecop, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Predator
Movies: Snakes on a Plane, Godzilla
TV: Wayward Pines
Movies: The Journey of Natty Gann, Halloween: Resurrection, I Robot, Good Boys, Dangerous Lies
Smallville’s Clark Kent (Tom Welling) tries to save future nemesis Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) by Pitt Meadow’s Menzie’s Crossing.
Movies: Lake Placid, Words & Pictures
TV: The Dead Zone, Once Upon a Time, Nancy Drew
Movies: Saved!, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Big Year
TV: Chesapeake Shores
Movies: Little Women, The Core, Black Christmas
TV: Tru Calling, Fringe, A Million Little Things
Movies: Bird on a Wire, In the Land of Women, Robocop
Movies: Juno, Jennifer’s Body
Movies: Bird on a Wire
Movies: Legends of the Fall, Sonic The Hedgehog
Movies: 3000 Miles to Graceland, Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Bad Times at the El Royale
Movies: Fierce People, The Day the Earth Stood Still
Jackie Chan and Francoise Yip lock lips by a New York skyline found only near Stanley Park.
Movies: Rumble in the Bronx, Final Destination, Final Destination 2, X2, The Butterfly Effect, White Chicks, X-Men: The Last Stand, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Percy Jackson & The Olympians,The Big Year, Tomorrowland, The Interview, Wonder
TV: The Commish, Hawkeye, The Magicians, Riverdale
Movies: Monster Trucks
Movies: Freddy vs. Jason, Trick R’ Treat
Horseshoe Bay hosts a very public execution in Bates Motel’s Oregon.
Movies: If I Stay, The Shack, The Edge of Seventeen, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
TV: Eureka, Bates Motel, You Me Her
Movies: Bird on a Wire, Shooter
Movies: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
TV: Trial & Error
Movies: The Revenant
Movies: The Mountain Between Us
Movies: The X-Files: I Want to Believe
TV: The 100
Movies: First Blood, The Journey of Natty Gann, Roxanne, Stakeout, The Accused, Another Stakeout, Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain, Firewall, Twilight:New Moon, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Confirmation, The Art of Racing in the Rain
TV: Dark Angel, Dead Like Me, Cedar Cove, The Killing, iZombie
Movies: A Single Shot
Gibson & Goldie get into gear in Victoria’s Market Square a lá Racine, Wisconsin.
Movies: Bird on a Wire
Movies: An Unfinished Life
This list is a work-in-progress and will likely be revisited in the future. If you know of a title I missed or a state I couldn’t find a title for, please respond in the comments!