Stephen King's scary magnum opus becomes a mega blockbuster, with more than a little help from Toronto.
Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto still revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.
We told you we’d try to come back when warranted and what could be more deserving than the highest-grossing horror movie ever? Not only was IT shot here, unlike a certain other successful horror franchise, IT actually shot all over the GTA instead of hunkering down in some lakefront studio, torturing people for months.
It’s kind of amazing that with all the adaptions there have been of Stephen King’s myriad works, IT is the first film of his to be shot here since David Cronenberg staged The Dead Zone back in the early 1980s. Except, no wait—there was that remake of Carrie! Anyone remember the remake of Carrie? Anyone?
We start of with an iconic scene that’s pretty much verbatim from the book, when little Georgie Denborough goes out in the rain with his paper boat. All this stuff which opens the movie was some of the final stuff they filmed. It was done in Weston and the Denborough house is …
…here, on Queens Drive.
Then the boat sails down the street…
…and then Georgie goes down here…
…and then we’re around the corner a bit, with a (built-for-the-film) sewer opening, right on nearby Springmount.
Now, see that house with the white at the end of the street? Do you know who lives there? Tom and Annie Edison live there! Don’t even act like you don’t remember The Edison Twins! That’s their house! For realsies!
And…no, wait a second. We just realized Tom Edison has big red hair and lived on this street in the 1980s, and Pennywise the Clown ALSO has red hair and lived on this street in the 1980s. And Pennywise, why, no one has seen him since that period! When’s the last time you saw Tom Edison?! Holy mother of…we’re through the looking glass here, people.
Anyway, where were we? Right, beautiful and fictional Derry, Maine. Port Hope gets all the glory shots of Derry, like this opening beauty, down Walton Street.
And this one, later on, shot looking past Port Hope’s Town Hall and the Ganaraska River. Amazingly, all the Port Hope stuff was done in a single week.
The main drag is in the same historic district which you may recall getting some cinematic screen time in Tommy Boy.
You can see the Capitol Theatre, dolled up for 1989, but otherwise looking much like itself, during this July 4 celebration, shot in mid-July last year…
…and the Losers Club, as the kids call themselves, hang out in Memorial Park…
…complete with its own added Paul Bunyan statue, just like the real one in Bangor, Maine. (His character doesn’t do much, but he has a bigger role in the sequel!).
They shot in the Capitol’s interior too.
We follow Mike…
…into this alleyway, across from the theatre, where he has something of a close encounter.
The kids hang out there later, too.
We also pay a couple of visits to the local drug store…
…which is this Guardian outlet.
The movie’s pretty good but if we’re being honest, the anachronistic appearance of Colgate Total in a movie set in 1989 nearly ruined the experience for us.
Anyway, Beverly lives around the corner…
…on Brogden’s Lane.
Also likely a tribute to King (and also because we don’t have such things around these parts), this distinctive structure (likely inserted via special effects) is the Thomas Hill Standpipe, near King’s home in Bangor and clearly the inspiration for Derry’s fictional version.
Speaking of municipal infrastructure, Ben spends some time in the library, the exterior of which is Port Hope’s Town Hall.
When we cut inside, however, we’re in Toronto, at Wycliffe College.
And when Ben goes down into the archives, we’re in a third location, the Masonic Temple on Annette Street.
But hey, that’s not the only Junction edifice with a Jewish star on it that gets some screen time!
Stan Uris has his bar mitzvah here…
The high school the kids attend is a rather unlikely location.
It’s the Mount Mary Convent in Ancaster (which explains the chapel in the middle of the park!)
They also shot a bit in Oshawa.
This street, where Ben lives, is Fisher Street.
Also in the Shwa is the house at 29 Neibolt Street, Pennywise’s portal into Derry, which is actually an impressive set they built (attracting plenty of attention)…
…on a vacant lot at James and Eulalie.
When Eddie walks by the house we also see the nearby Good Shepherd church.
As you may recall from all the local hullabaloo, the Neibolt house interiors were shot at 450 Pape.
The historic Cranfield House also appeared in the last season of The Strain, as well as Orphan Black, and some Riverdale residents were pissed about having a de facto film studio pop up in their neighbourhood.
But lighten up, people—it’s Pennywise the Clown’s house!
Speaking of houses, it turns out Eddie lives right around the corner from Bill…
…on William Street.
When his mom drives away you can see the Edison Twins’ house again, across the street!
This a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it thing, but Bill’s family photos show them riding the flume ride…
…clearly at Centreville.
Also down near Lake Ontario, the labyrinthine sewers and other sets were built at Pinewood.
There’s also an extended scene….
…where the kids go swimming at this quarry…
…which is the Elora Gorge. You may recall J. Lo swan diving off the same cliffs in Angel Eyes. No? Just us? Tough crowd.
We thought Henry Bowers’ house looked familiar when we saw it in the theatre and upon further inspection, yup, it’s a farmhouse we’ve seen before, up in the Whitevale area of Pickering.
Fannibals (you know, fans of Hannibal) may be savvy enough to recognize it as Will Graham’s house. So it’s in Pickering, but able to pass for anywhere between Virginia and Maine.
The scenes down in the Barrens…
…including the rock fight…
…were shot in Rouge Park.
And the Kissing Bridge, which we see when Ben is bullied by Henry Bowers and friends…
…and again at the end of the movie….
…is the very distinctive covered bridge in West Montrose, along the banks of the Grand River. It’s appeared n a few other movies, including The Mouth of Madness and To Die For (which also shot a lot in Port Hope).
IT had something of a long road to the big screen and as Constant Readers know, a part of that process was shunting the parallel adult story (which takes place in 1985 in the book but present day in the film timeline) into a hypothetical sequel. With the film’s runaway success of the first film, the fate of Chapter 2 is assured (indeed, the release date is already set for September 6, 2019), so don’t be surprised if Pennywise and co. are back in town before the year is out.