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Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Just Not Toronto)

Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers.

In a change that just might be the culprit for all the Wayfarers, Toronto’s film industry is shining brighter than it has in a while. As recently reported by the Star, Filmport, the almost one-year-old megastudio—still only in its first phase of development—is all but completely booked for production on various series, pilots, and feature films, most of them funded by major American studios. Despite in-fighting between the city and its various other studio owners over municipal funding for Filmport, this work is undoubtedly welcomed by the twenty-five thousand professional crew members and ten thousand unionized actors in Toronto.
Regardless of the state of the industry, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World was destined to bring its drawings to life in Toronto—call it a hunch. It’s perhaps the brightest shining spot in this recent gleam of good movie news; after a principal casting session that started in June 2008, and a herding of extras in February, the live-action film adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s popular Scott Pilgrim graphic novel series finally began shooting last week, and is scheduled to film into early August. O’Malley himself is pretty excited (squealing on his blog, “Omg it’s happening rite noww. Movie stars are dressing up as Scott Pilgrim characters and prancing around soundstages that have been built up to look like my drawings!” [Aww!]), and Torontoist is, too; it isn’t often that big American dollars are spent to make a movie not necessarily about Toronto, but nonetheless, to celebrate it exactly as we know and love it.

The biggest buzz around the film is still wunderkind Michael Cera’s starring role as protagonist Scott Pilgrim. If the promise of turning every corner all summer only to run into your favorite Hollywood-via-Brampton boy isn’t excitement enough, your eyes—and ears—are in for another homegrown treat. True to the huge role music plays in the novels, so far, three of Toronto’s biggest musical exports will be involved in filming: Wright confirmed in an Eye Weekly interview that, so far, Metric and Broken Social Scene are involved (Metric is said to be contributing an unreleased track, “Black Sheep,” to the soundtrack, but BSS’s contribution isn’t clear). Sloan (originally from Halifax, but based out of Toronto for almost ten years now) are involved as well, although the level of commitment has not been revealed. Based on Sloan bassist/vocalist/sometimes-drummer Chris Murphy’s frequent appearance in director Edgar Wright’s updates on his site, and assuming he is not attempting to play a teenager in the film, a logical guess would have him coaching the actors on their characters’ instruments for their live performance scenes. The Playlist rolls the dice and lands on renowned producer Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Pavement, R.E.M.) as the film’s music supervisor. (Rolling Stone makes mention of Godrich’s involvement as well, and claims he requested the Metric song.)

Sloan’s Chris Murphy, Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim, and Johnny Simmons as Young Neil.

Further fuel to the ever-tantalizing rumour fire: irresistibly charming actor and musician Jason Schwartzman is still unconfirmed (but widely speculated) as Pilgrim’s ultimate nemesis, Gideon Gordon Graves, and according to always-reliable forum commenters, Quentin Tarantino will reportedly sit in as guest director for a scene. Although neither one has technically verified, on-set pictures show Schwartzman playing peek-a-boo behind makeshift masks, barely attempting to disguise his identity. Torontoist has not yet done its highly scientific measurements on the hairline in this photographic “proof” of “Tarantino,” the sole evidence of his involvement.

Top secret! Jason Schwartzman? Quentin Tarantino? Edgar Wright.

Michael Cera, hiding on set.

For a bit of top-notch technical stuff, action movie Director of Photography Bill Hope (The Matrix, Spiderman 2 and 3) is on board for cinematography, and in a rare casting decision for a big-budget (potential) blockbuster, local actor Ellen Wong makes the jump from Canadian episodic obscurity (This Is Wonderland) to the big screen, starring alongside Cera as one of his love interests, Knives Chau.
While it’s clear that Wright is making himself comfy in town (especially at the Bloor Cinema), it’s unclear whether he’s attempted to further embrace Scott Pilgrim‘s original locales by catching a show at Lee’s Palace, going for grub at Sneaky Dee’s, taking a bored shuffle through Dufferin Mall, or starting fights in the Toronto Reference Library. Will we still be able to rifle through dusty CDs at Sonic Boom until midnight, while Filmport is instead dressed to impressed, or will these locations be closed for some authentic filming? Let’s hope for the latter. Sacrificing a convenient trip to No Frills: annoying. Forever having the Dirty Duff immortalized in a major motion picture: priceless.
All images from Edgar Wright’s Flickr photostream.


  • http://null Sun

    What does Filmport have to do with this film that isn’t even located with them? How much cash did they throw this way to have their name mentioned in this poorly researched article.

  • Nicole Villeneuve

    Filmport, as the newest studio space in the city, is pretty clearly mentioned for its relevance to current general film/tv activity. It is hosting a large number of the new productions in town, and its timeliness—not its many untold riches—is the reason for its mention.

  • http://undefined Andrew Pulsifer

    I saw Chris Murphy and Kevin Drew hanging out together at The Tap last week. I wonder if that means there is going to be some sort of collaboration between the two for the film. That would be interesting.

  • http://undefined fantasygoat

    I still think Cera just isn’t “boyishly cute” enough to pull off Scott Pilgrim.

  • http://null ThePlaylist

    Actually, it’s already been revealed that Nigel Godrich is recording/producing all the bands whose new;y-written music will become the original Sex Bob-Omb, Clash At Demonhead songs, so it was more an educated guess that turned out to be correct. He’s also helping select the music and there’s going to be many bigger names revealed in time.

  • http://undefined Nicole Villeneuve

    Playlist is right! Somehow in the deluge of news and rumours I completely missed actor Mark Webber’s ‘slip’ in this interview, confirming Godrich’s involvement. Thanks for the heads up, Playlist.
    And check out the newly launched Scott Pilgrim site for weekly video blog updates from Edgar Wright and co.

  • John Sunglasses Clark

    Just saw this and am intrigued by pre-film comments. I thought it was pretty good to be honest.