An ever-growing number of famous films have used ski resorts for their sets. Sometimes the movies are so big the resorts never forget their time in the spotlight and stage annual festivals or even build permanent exhibitions themed on the film. In other cases, the money the film company pays is invested in resort infrastructure so we can all thank the film company for that lift or restaurant actually being built. Here are 10 of the best examples:
The ski resort of Fortress Mountain Alberta, Canada was the location for the climactic scenes of Inception. The resort had closed down when the film was shot and is yet to fully re-open but income from the film company allowed an access bridge to be replaced enabling skiing to resume and the resort’s operators say full re-opening is coming closer with every movie filmed there (there have been several more including The Bourne Legacy and The Revenant since Inception).
This is a great look at the production of the famous scene.
2. Dumb and Dumber
The quirky comedy movie with hapless duo Jim Carrey as Lloyd and Jeff Daniels as Harry features the infamous frozen-tongue-stuck-to-metal-pole scene. Supposedly set in Aspen, some resort scenes were filmed in Breckenridge and Park City and the ski scenes at Copper Mountain. There’s a Denver business now selling Dumb and Dumber holiday packages to Aspen complete with orange and lilac tux attire.
Fans of The Beatles may recall the movies they made to accompany several of the albums, with Help! the second movie released in 1965. This included ski scenes shot at the Austrian resort of Obertauern, then a bit of a backwater. Now some of the young men that helped on location are wealthy property owners running the resort’s 4 and 5-star hotels and the resort celebrates its Beatles connection every year.
4. River of No Return
Marilyn Monroe stayed in Banff in 1953 for filming River of No Return which was shot in both the local Banff and neighbouring Jasper National Parks. Monroe and husband-to-be baseball star Joe DiMaggio stayed in the iconic Banff Springs and Jasper Park Lodge hotels during filming and Monroe took a chairlift ride up Banff’s local Mt Norquay ski hill for a stop at the tearoom up at the top of the lift.
5. Downhill Racer
Before owning his own ski resort, Sundance in Utah, Robert Redford played a quietly cocky ski racer who joined the U.S. ski team but then clashes with the team’s coach, played by Gene Hackman. It all ends well and there are some great ski scenes, many shot in top European resorts like St Anton, Megeve, Kitzbuhel and Wengen and although there’s also filming in Colorado.
6. Hot Dog, The Movie
The archetypal ‘cheesy 80s comedy movie’ sees local-farm-boy-made-good Harkin Banks, take on smug Euro-ski-racer Rudy in a fictional freestyle skiing world championships with plenty of misadventures along the way. Although it is described as ‘low budget’ it did cost a reputed $20m to make 35 years ago and thankfully for the film company grossed $33m. Squaw Valley is happy to be associated with the fun of this film and it’s a good excuse to stage film anniversary celebrations in dayglo 80s-gear in the years since.
007 James Bond
With more than five decades of filming and some 26 James Bond movies now it’s hardly surprising that the excitement of action on snowboards, skis and snowmobiles have been shot in more than half-a-dozen resorts, most of them in Europe, although the famous “Ski over a cliff” shot in the opening sequence of ‘A View to a Kill’ was shot at Mt Asgard on Baffin Island.
Several ski resorts in the Alps still play on their Bond shooting history a bit like former Olympic hosts proudly reflect on their heritage. The classic Swiss resort of Murren is where the 1970 movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was shot, and indeed fees from the film company helped meet the budget to complete a mountain top revolving restaurant there. More recently Solden in Austria was used as a location for snow shots ion the most recent Bond movie, Spectre, and this season opened a major Bond themed audio-visual exhibition inside a mountain named ‘007 Elements’.
Although supposedly set in the Colorado Rockies (and parts of it were shot around Durango), Sylvester Stallone’s 1993 edge-of-your-seat mountaineering thriller had most of its action scenes short in the Italian Dolomites around the chic ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo.
9. Eddie The Eagle
The unlikely Olympic hero at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary, Canada was always great material for a movie – the local boy who made it to the biggest sporting event on earth, and doing something most of us are terrified of trying ourselves – ski jumping – against all the odds. In 2016 that film was made starring Taron Egerton as Eddie and Hugh Jackman as his washed-up coach and was filmed at some of the real ski jumps including Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Oberstdorf and Seefeld.
10. Hot Tub Time Machine
With one of the greatest film titles, and indeed movie concepts of all time, it seems only right that the Hot Tub Time Machine was shot in one of the world’s great ski resorts too – Fernie in BC (if not Sun Valley, Idaho, which is often credited as the place where hot tubs were invented). For the few people who may not have seen it, the film premise is that after an all-night party in a hot tub during their vacation, four men wake up back in 1986. Genius.
Where was your favorite ski scene shot? Let’s hear them in the comments!