The North Okanagan has hit the big screen.
Disney’s Tomorrowland, partially shot in Grindrod, opened in theatres Friday, while Go With Me, which was also filmed in the region, has been marketed at a prestigious trade fair in Europe.
“It’s really amazing. Word is getting around,” said John Trainor, an Armstrong resident and Okanagan Film Commission chairperson.
Trainor and film commissioner Jon Summerland attended Tomorrowland’s premiere in Vancouver Thursday.
“It’s definitely a family movie and there’s lots of interesting special effects. The audience enjoyed it,” said Trainor.
“It (the premiere) was cool. It was a who’s who of Vancouver and lots of film industry people were there.”
Missing was the star, George Clooney.
“There was a rumour he’d be there but he didn’t show,” said Trainor.
Clooney and the rest of the cast and crew were in the North Okanagan in the summer of 2013, and the region is profiled early on in the film.
“There is a very cool scene, that I actually watched be shot, where a young George Clooney comes in on a jetpack and crashes,” said Trainor.
“The farm house and farm and certainly the hills around Enderby are recognizable. There were also back roads in Armstrong I recognized.”
At the same time that Tomorrowland is turning heads in theatres, another movie with North Okanagan links is also garnering attention.
The trailer for Go With Me was featured at the film industry’s sales market in Cannes, France.
“We were meeting with international film distributors who want to look at your movie,” said Rick Dugdale, producer and president of Hollywood-based Enderby Entertainment, which is named after his hometown.
Go With Me, which stars Anthony Hopkins, was filmed in Enderby, Armstrong and Vernon in late 2014.
“Everyone is extremely excited,” said Dugdale of the response to the trailer. “They are seeing the look of the film and what the genre is — a suspense thriller. More action plays well overseas.”
It’s anticipated the film will be shown at a Canadian film festival soon and distribution plans for North America are being put together. It could be released in February or March.
“No matter what happens, we will show it in Vernon,” said Dugdale.
Post-production is taking place in Sweden and Hopkins has been following the process with keen interest.
“When the lead cast is happy, we have executed what we hoped to do,” said Dugdale.
Trainor is convinced more major films will come to the region, particularly after attending Tomorrowland’s premiere.
“The director and producer were impressed with the local crews and that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s a great place to film a movie. It’s a very professional place to shoot.”
It has been suggested that Tomorrowland could pump $91 million into B.C.’s economy.
“I wish we would give a little more due to the impact these productions have so the film commission is not going every year cap in hand for another two per cent (funding increase) from regional districts,” said Trainor.
“We have an operating budget under $200,000 and we bring tens of millions into the Okanagan.”