Movie and TV productions are ramping up on the UBC campus after a pandemic slowdown, with officials boasting 75 shoots have taken advantage of the university’s scenic locales since March.
With its forest backdrops and mix of old and new buildings, UBC is said to be one of the most-filmed locations in the world – a claim that wouldn’t be possible without film manager Arlene Chan, who has been fielding production requests for the last 36 years.
Chan helps everyone from major Hollywood studios to aspiring student filmmakers scout locations – while also ensuring shoots aren’t detrimental to learning or campus life in general.
“Just the presence of a film crew can have an impact on university activities, so we have to ensure we aren’t interfering with any classes, exams or student-led events,” Chan said in a university news release.
Here are some of the major TV shows and movies that have used UBC to tell their stories over the years.
“Fifty Shades of Grey”
The critically panned but commercially successful 2015 adaption of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, filmed at a number of locations in Vancouver, including the hallways of UBC’s Chemistry Building, the steps of the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre and the Chan Centre for Performing Arts.
The gardens of Cecil Green Park House were used to simulate the roof of a Hong Kong high-rise in Dwayne Johnson’s 2018 action thriller “Skyscraper” – another critical dud that still pulled in hundreds of millions of dollars.
Cecil Green Park House has been used for several TV and movie shoots, including “Riverdale,” “The X-Files” and “Good Luck Chuck.” (UBC)
“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”
Hugh Jackman’s first of three spinoffs from the X-Men franchise, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” saw the exterior of Buchanan Tower stand in for a high-rise in Nigeria. The 2009 movie also co-starred Vancouver’s own Ryan Reynolds.
“The Adam Project”
Reynolds filmed another project at UBC, the Netflix science fiction family drama “The Adam Project” that came out earlier this year. Reynolds tries to explain a “time travel emergency” on the university’s Main Mall between the Chemistry Building and Sauder School of Business, according to Netflix’s website detailing the local shooting locations.
Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo and Walker Scobell are seen in a still image from the 2022 film “The Adam Project.” (Netflix)
According to UBC, Irving K. Barber was used in the Syfy fantasy series “The Magicians” as well, depicting the fictional Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy. The same building has been used in a number of other series, including “Fringe” and “Charmed.”
“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb”
The Chemistry Building was also used during the filming of the third “Night at the Museum” movie, which had a massive cast of stars including Ben Stiller, Rebel Wilson and Robin Williams – none of whom could spare the 2015 sequel its lacklustre reviews.
The hit Netflix series “Riverdale,” very loosely based on Archie Comics, used the Cecil Green Park House as well, setting the scene as the mansion belonging to Cheryl Blossom’s family in the pilot, according to UBC.
A scene from “Riverdale” filmed inside Cecil Green Park House at UBC. (Netflix)
“Josie and the Pussycats”
Another Archie Comics adaption, 2001’s “Josie and the Pussycats,” starring Rachael Leigh Cook and Rosario Dawson, used UBC’s Chan Centre for Performing Arts – though not for a staged performance of the fictional rock band. According to the centre’s website, the lobby was “transformed into a stunning high-end apartment.”
Instructions for a walking tour of filming locations on campus is available on the UBC website.