X-Men Dark Phoenix filmed in Montreal

Superhero movie X-Men: Dark Phoenix filmed entirely in and around the Canadian city of Montreal for a story that spans global settings.

By Nick Goundry 4 Jun 2019

X-Men Dark Phoenix filmed in Montreal
Dark Phoenix

Superhero movie X-Men: Dark Phoenix filmed entirely in and around the Canadian city of Montreal for a story that spans global settings.

The film follows young woman Jean Grey as she develops immense powers and the X-Men must deal with her as a potential threat to the world. Sophie Turner stars alongside James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender.

Principal photography involved large-scale set builds for otherwise innocuous settings, largely to offer director Simon Kinberg and his crew complete control for an action-heavy story.

The suburban street where Jean Grey spend her childhood became a key setting but the producers chose to build it as a set rather than shoot on location in Montreal.

“We started with a field of gravel,” says Claude Paré, the film’s production designer.

“We created a neighbourhood that is very lower-middle class. I wanted to have a bridge in there to show that people drive by, but they don’t stop there. At the other end of it, I wanted to have this field of electrical devices with pylons and towers and wires.

“We poured an asphalt road, but just had gravel leading to the lots – no sidewalks. All the houses were pre-built in the shop and we assembled them on-site. The set dressing team did an amazing job putting in all the electrical wires hanging over each of these houses, the cables, the gutters, everything.”

Elsewhere, the story’s fictional setting of Genosha, an island established as a refuge of sorts for mutant characters and situated off the coast of south-east Africa, was built an hour outside Montreal.

A key action sequence in Genosha involves Fassbender's conflicted X-Men villain Erik Lehnsherr (aka Magneto) and Grey, both of whom can manipulate metal, trying to seize control of a military helicopter with the power of their minds. The sequence was shot largely in-camera, with a helicopter suspended in the air on cables.

New York’s iconic Fifth Avenue was partially built on a sound stage for a sequence where Erik raises a subway train through the sidewalk and uses it as a battering ram to break through a building wall.

“We built that whole New York street on a sound stage, so we could control it and blow things up,” says Kinberg. “That was quite an elaborate sequence to film. The moment where Michael comes in the embassy and the train car comes crashing in behind him – that is all real.

“That train car is on a rig - it’s a real subway car that is coming at a pretty fast speed right behind Michael Fassbender with the wall exploding behind Michael.”

Dark Phoenix is the third film in the X-Men franchise to shoot in Montreal. The movie was originally slated to spend around CA$80m in the city.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Quebec.

Images: 20th Century Fox

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