Hamilton appears in ‘BlackBerry,’ ‘Simulant’ official trailers


Published March 16, 2023 at 2:40 pm

Official trailers of two forthcoming films where could have Hamilton moviegoers saying “hey, I know that place!” have dropped within the last week.

BlackBerry, which dramatizes the rise and fall of the eponymous first-gen smartphone, and the sci-fi thriller Simulant both release to wider audiences and May and were filmed in and around the city in 2022. Both also have Canadian creativity on each side of the lens.

Toronto-born filmmaker Matt Johnson is the movie mind behind BlackBerry, whose main cast includes Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia‘s sociopathic Dennis Reynolds), Ottawa-born Jay Baruchel (She’s Outta My League, This Is The End), and Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride). Its wider release is on May 12, and the trailer was released on Wednesday.

Simulant (due out of May 5) is directed by Niagara Falls, Ont., native April Mullen. It tells a dystopian story seemingly from the perspective of Faye (Jordana Brewster (The Fast and the Furious), a widow who replaces her late life partner with an android simulant (played by Toronto-born Robbie Amell of The Flash)

Mississauga movie star Simu Liu is in the cast, but the trailer says “with Simu Liu,” implying that he is not the headliner. Sam Worthington, of Avatar and Hacksaw Ridge fame, is also in the main cast.

In order of recency, BlackBerry, whose a world première came last month at the Berlin International Film Festival, deals with a story semi-familiar to Hamilton. It tells the story of the principals behind the popular device that was known by its users as ‘CrackBerry’ before its digital ubiquity was usurped in the late 2000s by Apple’s iPhone. The manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM) was based in nearby Waterloo, and co-founder and CEO Jim Balsillie — whom a bald-headed Howerton portrays on screen, eschewing Dennis’s gelled pretty-boy look — also tried to buy an NHL franchise and relocate it to Hamilton.

Baruchel, appearing with grey hair, plays RIM co-founder Mike Lazardis. Elwes portrays Palm CEO Carl Yankowski.

It might be a challenge to spot Hamilton locations in a dialogue-driven trailer since it features plenty of tightly shot close-ups. Offices of Empire Steel were used in interiors. The 90-year-old Russell Williams Family Restaurant in Aldershot (i.e., Burlington) also stood in for a long-closed Waterloo Region diner where the real-life Balsille and Lazardis held meetings in the mid-1990s.

The 5-Drive-In in Oakville was also a filming location.

Filmed in Hamilton, a movie about the rise and fall of BlackBerry hits the big screen

BlackBerry will hit theatres just shy of a year to the day that Howerton created a stir by asking for breakfast-spot recommendations in Hamilton. The actor was hit with a plethora of recommendations and ultimately checked out Saint James on James St. N., which he found to his liking.

Baruchel also has some filming connections to Hamilton.

The 40-year-old comic actor is a producer on the fantasy superhero series The Boys, which frequently utilizes the historic architecture of downtown Hamilton to simulate a fictionalized New York City. Baruchel, a diehard devotee of the Montréal Canadiens hockey team, also directed, wrote, and a played a foul-mouthed fanboy in the 2017 hockey comedy Goon: Last of the Enforcers. Pugilistic protagonist Doug Glatt (Seann William Scott) and antagonist teammate Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell) played for a team called the Halifax Highlanders.

However, while Halifax has a 10,000-seat arena that is close to plenty of popular bars, most of the hockey scenes were filmed in Ontario. The Corktown Pub in Hamilton was used to film a scene that included Baruchel and fellow Canadians Alison Pill (The Newsroom) and Elisha Cuthbert (of 24 and the early 2010s cult-favourite hangout comedy Happy Endings).

Meantime, the Simulant trailer does show that it was filmed in Hamilton. In the cover image atop this article, the audience’s vantage looks west along Barton Street. The Friscolanti Funeral Home at 43 Barton E. is the grey one-storey building is in the middle right of the shot.

Director Mullen has also been praised for the visual quality of her work, and there’s an action sequence that takes place in a field in the Flamborough area. And when Jordana Brewster is running down the street, one can clearly see that she is in central Hamilton.

In any event, both movies will be in theatres in just under two months. It seems like there is incentive to see both — because of the implication.

— with files from Gene Pereira, Anthony Urciuoli, and The Canadian Press; images from Mongrel Media, The Canadian Press, and Movie Trailers Source

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