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Film’s success makes city a silver screen showpiece

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The commercial success of a recent made-in-Manitoba hockey film is continuing to make the city and the province’s film industry into a showpiece both on-screen and behind the lens.


Opening at the end of February, Goon earned $1.2 million in its first week of release, and has since made more than $3 million.


"Critical success works in our favour," said Nicole Matiation, executive director of On Screen Manitoba.


"It speaks well of the industry here and the quality of crew and the talent that was supplied for the movie."


Goon, which stars Seann William Scott as a mild-mannered bouncer drafted by a minor league hockey team for his fighting skills, also hit 200 screens in the U.K. — a major accomplishment overseas for a Canadian film, Matiation said.


Those kind of numbers make Goon a great example of a Canadian commercial release, she said.


"Not only did it provide considerable employment while it was being shot here, it’s going to have a lasting effect in terms of promoting the capacity of the industry here."


With a 35-day shooting schedule across southern Manitoba, including Brandon and Portage la Prairie, the film features several local actors and sets, including the St. James Civic Centre.


The use of local landmarks — such as the Exchange District and the Arlington Bridge — helped produce a film more recognizably Winnipeg than others filmed here including the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford or Shall We Dance?


"From an audience perspective, it’s always a thrill to recognize your hometown on the big screen… and always interesting to see the city reflected back to you in whatever way or form," Matiation said.


A former Winnipeg-based actor who was featured in the movie said he was impressed by how the city itself became one of the film’s biggest stars.


"A lot of movies that have come to (shoot in) Winnipeg they do little bit parts," added actor Jeff Scott Wahl, a former St. Vital and Wolseley resident, who also attended Winnipeg Mennonite Elementary School in St. James.


Wahl was cast in the role of an obnoxious drunk bar patron who is punched out by Scott’s character.


"It’s hockey movie. Because of the Jets coming back that makes Goon even that much more special for obvious reasons," he said.


While he admits he recently moved to Toronto for better casting opportunities, Wahl acknowledged that an increasing number of production companies are looking at Winnipeg as a cheap, easy place to make films.

matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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