A Genre Traveler’s Guide to Vancouver

Considering that British Columbia is the third-largest film production region in North America, it shouldn’t be surprising that a wealth of genre film and television shows are shot there. And Vancouver, the largest city in British Columbia has been used as the backdrop of many science fiction, fantasy and horror films and television shows.

In fact, according to Lonely Planet, in the last three decades, more than 3,000 film and television projects have been shot in British Columbia, including genre shows such as The X Files (1993), Battlestar Galactica (2004), Smallville (2001), Supernatural (2005), Sliders (1995), Outer Limits (1995), Highlander (1986), Fringe (2008), V (2009), Eureka (2006) and the all of the Stargate franchise shows [SG-1 (1997), Atlantis (2004) and Universe (2009)] have shot at numerous locations throughout the Lower Mainland.

Vancouver is a town that many studios and production companies call home. This makes it a genre traveler’s dream vacation spot. So the next time you find yourself there, you might want to check out these science fiction, fantasy, and horror film locations.

A Genre Traveler's Guide to Vancouver

Bridge Studios, Burnaby, east of downtown Vancouver

Bridges Studios in Vanouver

SOURCE: Jeff Hitchcock from Vancouver, BC, Canada [Creative Commons]

Once a steel manufacturing plant — in fact part of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge was made there — the Dominion Bridge plant is now home of Bridge Studios.

Scenes from Night at the Museum (2006), The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (2009) and Jumanji (1995) were shot here. The Jean Claude Van Damme film, Timecop (1994), was shot in Burnaby, as well.

Orpheum Theatre, 884 Granville Street, Vancouver

The Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver

SOURCE: SamGusway

Built in 1927 as a movie theatre in the grandiose Moorish style, the Orpheum showed up in The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus as the theatre where Tony 3 (Colin Farrell) attends the disastrous children’s charity bash.

Scenes from the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica TV series were also shot here. And, more recently, several CW DC Comics shows has used this location, including The Flash (2014), Arrow (2012), DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (2016) and Supergirl (2015).

Gastown, Vancouver

Gastown, Vancouver


Established the same year Canada became a nation, Gastown has served as the backdrop to many a film and television show. The opening and ending sequences of The Neverending Story (1984), where the bullies chase Bastian, were shot near the Gastown Steam Clock in Trounce Alley, between Water and Cordova.

Also, scenes from The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010) were shot in Gastown.

Downtown Vancouver

Marine Building, Vancouver

Zhatt [Public domain]

As you tour through downtown Vancouver, you’ll probably recognize a number of locations from your favorite genre TV shows.

In fact, it served as Metropolis for Smallville. Stop by the Marine Building on 355 Burrard St. and you’ll see not only the last art deco building still standing in the city but the exterior of The Daily Planet. The Marine Building was also used in Blade: Trinity (2004), and both Fantastic Four (2005) and Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007).

Pendrell Suites

This boutique hotel has served as the backdrop of at least 60 productions since March 2009, including the pilot for the recent remake of V. Other genre shows that have used the location include The X Files, The Dead Zone (2002), Blood Ties (2007) and Tru Calling (2003).

Hatley Castle

Once the dormitory for cadets and staff officers at Royal Roads Military College and now the administrative center of Royal Roads University, it makes sense that this modern-day “castle” build in 1908 would make a good stand-in for Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in both X-Men II (2003) and III (2006). It is also used as the exterior of Lex Luthor’s mansion in Smallville.

If you don’t want to create a do it yourself tour, there is one tour companies in Vancouver that will be happy to help you out. Fans of Vancouver hosts walking tours downtown Vancouver that include locations from Supernatural and The Flash.

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About the author

As The Genre Traveler, Carma Spence loves to view the world through Genre-Coloured glasses. In other words, she sees the world through a lens of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, where trash cans can be Daleks in disguise and neighborhood forests can harbor faeries and sprites. Magic realism is real! Or at least you can choose to see the world that way to add to the fun and awe of life.