Tofino, Ucluelet going 'ape' for blockbuster sequel filming around town
A blockbuster franchise filming around Tofino and Ucluelet has injected some excitement into the sleepy Vancouver Island towns – and local business owners couldn’t be happier.
The next installment in the highly popular “Planet of the Apes” franchise is being filmed on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and while crews are trying to keep shooting under wraps, resihave taken notice.
“Well we know that this film is here, and that they’re filming out at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve,” said Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne. “People are excited, they’re interested. It’s neat to see the production and all of the people.”
While secrecy shrouds the production, signs can be spotted around town. Horses and all-terrain vehicles have been seen cruising the sands of Long Beach.
“There’s a bit of a buzz and you hear a few things, but people don’t always talk about it explicitly, especially if it’s a feature film,” said Osborne. “Sometimes it’s held under wraps until later.”
At Jamie’s Rainforest Inn, just off the Pacific Rim Highway, two-thirds of the hotel is filled with crew members.
But those hoping to glimpse the series’ stars like Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson have been out of luck so far, according to general manager Ryan Orr.
“No stars yet. Right now, it’s mostly production, some security, props people, most of the hard-working crew that makes it all happen,” he said.
A similar scene is playing out near Ucluelet, where filming is also taking place.
“Sounds like quite a few hotels have seen the extra work,” said Orr. “I mean, we’re just a small property. Apparently there are over 200 people that need rooms. We only have one person per room here, so there’s a lot of people staying elsewhere.”
Osborne said crew members are also hitting up local bars and restaurants, boosting the region’s shoulder season – which is a boon for business owners.
“Having a film come to Tofino and the area is pretty significant for our economy, especially when they come in in the shoulder season like this,” Osborne said. “So we’ve got at least 100 room nights that are booked out by the crew while they’re here, and Ucluelet has rooms booked out as well, and it’s great for both towns.”
The hope is when the latest Apes sequel hits the big screen, it will serve as another draw to the region, just like productions before it have done – including Superman and the Twilight films.
“Down in New Zealand where they filmed Lord of the Rings, it’s actually become a mini-industry there,” said Orr. “People want to go see where the Lord of the Rings was filmed, so perhaps we’ll see something like that as well.”'
With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Gord Kurbis