From Priscilla film to Schwarzenegger’s first TV role, productions break Hamilton spending record in 2022


Published November 17, 2023 at 4:58 pm

Priscilla Presley movie Sofia Coppola

Hamiltonians may spot familiar scenery in the new film Priscilla by acclaimed director Sofia Coppola.

The low-budget film, which has been out in theatres since Nov. 3,  tells the love story of Priscilla Beaulieu and rock ‘n’ roll superstar Elvis.

Since the film’s budget was so low, Coppola opted to substitute Elvis’s Graceland mansion with the century-old Tamahaac Club in Ancaster. The movie was also filmed in Toronto.

Priscilla was among 177 film, TV and entertainment productions that were shot in Hamilton in 2022. There were equal numbers of Canadian and foreign (mostly in the United States) productions. Productions ranged from television series and feature films to documentaries and commercials. 

Kim Adrovez, manager of creative industries and cultural development at the City of Hamilton, said spending by film productions in Hamilton was the highest ever last year at just over $72 million, up from about $70 million in 2021. This number includes money productions spent in the city, such as location fees, permits, equipment rentals, restaurant meals and hotel stays. The City issued 1,000 permits last year.

We had a record year last year, it was great,” she said in an interview with

Adrovez said the film industry helps power Hamilton’s economy with more than  9,000 people employed in the sector based on 2016 data. She said the data was to be updated.

“We have a really solid cluster of businesses within Hamilton that support the film industry or connected to the film industry,” she said.

She gave examples of Hamilton film studios such as Aeon Bayfront Studios that has studio space and companies that offer equipment rentals. As well, local companies offer props, drone photography, costumes and makeup.

Businesses that host productions get revenue boosts, such as venues, retail shops, cafes and halls, she added.

An example of a production that filmed in Hamilton last year includes the Disney+  movie called World’s Best, which was mainly shot at the former Delta High school. Released in June, it’s about a math whiz named Prem Patel who also secretly dreams of becoming a rap star like his late father. Roshan Sethi directed it and it stars Manny Magnus, Punam Patel and Utkarsh Ambudkar.

Fubar stars Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first TV role, which he compares to action comedy hit movie True Lies. It’s about a CIA operative who discovers a family secret that thwarts his retirement plans. It was filmed at 33 Sanford Ave. S., 360 Beach Road, 21 Brockley Dr. and 1691 RR 97 (Valens Conservation Area).

Disney+ TV series Witch Mountain stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Natalie Gumede, Maia Jae Bastidas and Drew Nelson. The series is about two teens who develop strange abilities. It was filmed in Hamilton late last year at 1284 Main St. E., 1 Summers Lane and 1480 Highway 6.

Rabbit Hole is a Paramount+ series about  private espionage agent John Weir, starring Kiefer Sutherland, Meta Golding and Enid Graham. It filmed at these locations: 9300 Airport Rd., 200 Acadia Dr., 800 Woodward Ave. (Red Hill Valley Trail), 524 Barton St. E., 72 James St. N., 77 James St. N. (Hamilton City Centre), 134 Cannon St., 118 King St. E. and 1 Hughson St. S.

Starring Justina Machado, Alejandro Hernandez and K. Todd, dark comedy TV series The Horrors of Dolores Roach on Amazon Prime is based on a podcast and has a cult following. It is about how a former prisoner Dolores Roach is driven to “shocking extremes to survive.” It was filmed at 695 Barton St. E., 62 James St. N., 1280 Main St. W. (McMaster University).

Eli Roth’s horror flick Thanksgiving, about an axe-wielding psychopath, was partially filmed in Hamilton this spring, including Waterdown High School, downtown Barton Street Village, the Cotton Factory, Van Wagner’s Beach Boulevard on the waterfront, and some residential areas on Mountain and downtown. Its stars include Patrick Dempsey, Rick Hoffman, Gina Gershon and Addison Rae. ·

Adrovez, manager of creative industries and cultural development for the City, said productions typically use code names and she couldn’t publicly reveal any current productions that were filming. 

She said Hamilton has many popular filming locations, such as downtown, James Street North, Ottawa Street, LIUNA Station, Hamilton City Hall, Tim Hortons Field, Gore Park and Gage Park.

“What’s really attractive about Hamilton is the diversity of looks that productions can get so they really like coming here because they can film at one of our conservation areas,” she said. “They can film at a beach, on Lake Ontario, they can film at farms in the more rural area. They can get all different types of housing stock so there’s neighbourhoods in the city that have a sort of rural house look to them, there’s grittier neighbourhoods, then there are neighbourhoods that have big sprawling estates as well. So having that variety and being able to get from location to location within a few minutes really makes Hamilton attractive for production.”

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