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TTC streetcars get the IMAX treatment

Posted by Chris Bateman / April 7, 2014

toronto ttc imaxThe Toronto streetcar is getting the big screen IMAX movie treatment this summer. A stunning looking trailer for The Red Rocket, a documentary that records the daily life of "one of the world's great trolley rides," is currently making the rounds online.

The 14-minute short was commissioned by the CN Tower's Maple Leaf Cinema. It follows the evolution of the Toronto streetcar from the wooden vehicles of the Toronto Railway Company, the precursor to the TTC, to the current fleet of CLRVs and articulated ALRVs. There's also a look at the new low-floor streetcars coming to Spadina Avenue later this year.

The Red Rocket was shot last summer and fall by Stephen Low, an IMAX filmmaker who has produced features about the building of the Canadian Pacific railway and the wreck of the Titanic, and is due for release in the next few months.

"We're aiming for the summer, certainly by Canada Day, perhaps sooner though," says Alexander Low from The Stephen Low Company. A full-length movie for museums and science centres that will include some of the TTC footage is also in the works.

"It's a bigger story about the history of the trolley and the current status of the trolley," Low says. "It's a different style of film. It will be a full 45-minute IMAX-style documentary."

The TTC says it made its vehicles available for filming but had little input in the direction of the film. Amateur film maker Brad O'Brien captured part of the production, which included a special camera truck, in October 2013.

You've never seen Toronto streetcars look this pretty. Check it out.

The Red Rocket trailer from Stephen Low on Vimeo.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.



Jordan / April 7, 2014 at 11:24 am
Great footage, terrible font.
JoeCarter / April 7, 2014 at 11:25 am
Featuring the only four smiling TTC employees.
W. K. Lis / April 7, 2014 at 11:37 am
Warning: Parental guidance required! May not be suitable auto-addicted politicians or drivers.
Sam / April 7, 2014 at 11:42 am
ohh I thought we were getting screens too watch ON the TTC itself NOT an edu-tainment-docu-drama.
DRL? Presto? replying to a comment from W. K. Lis / April 7, 2014 at 11:47 am
WARNING: The opinions expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect the views or experience of the day to day commuters using the TCC.
nb / April 7, 2014 at 11:51 am
The only place in the world where a poorly functioning tourist attraction is a critical part of our transportion infrastructure.
steve replying to a comment from nb / April 7, 2014 at 12:02 pm
SF trolly buses.
tommy replying to a comment from nb / April 7, 2014 at 12:05 pm
Someone hasn't heard of San Francisco's F Market & Wharves line.
David / April 7, 2014 at 12:16 pm
That last part is not even in Toronto - those are historic streetcars at the Halton County Radial Railway Museum.
marshall replying to a comment from Jordan / April 7, 2014 at 12:55 pm
Garneau replying to a comment from JoeCarter / April 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm
best laugh I've had all day. Nice one.
Jessica / April 7, 2014 at 01:05 pm
I wish they'd throw in some footage of an average, sardine can, getting-pushed-down-the-stairs, rush hour ride on College.
iSkyscraper / April 7, 2014 at 01:42 pm
Nice, but a shame the streetcars are not even put on the transit map (they appear as bus lines) and that most of the PCCs were given away in the 1990s instead of being employed on a downtown Circle Line (a la SF or Melbourne).

Still, this film should go some way to correcting the atmosphere of constant negative attacks on the streetcar system in the city that has more streetcars than any other on the continent. We should be celebrating and enhancing this major asset, not sniping about faux "St. Clair disasters" and handcuffing them behind car traffic.

Every other city wants streetcars (Wash DC and Atlanta open new lines this year). We already have them but need to run them better and appreciate them more.
Bill Reno / April 7, 2014 at 03:57 pm
Here's why Toronto's streetcars are the longest-lasting in the world, saving passengers and taxpayers millions every year:
stopitman replying to a comment from tommy / April 7, 2014 at 05:47 pm
There's also a whole bunch of EU cities with streetcars and/or LRTs = Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Vienna, Rome, Dublin, Milan, Zurich, and outside of the EU Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Tokyo, etc. etc. Just check out the massive list on Wikipedia:

LRT and streetcars are still used quite widely (and many are fairly new too) - only people who have no knowledge of the outside world seem to think that they're dead.
linden replying to a comment from stopitman / April 7, 2014 at 05:58 pm
in some European cities there are street designated only for streetcars
Chris replying to a comment from linden / April 7, 2014 at 07:49 pm
We should have separate lanes/ streets for ours too! It's good to see some curbs being put in to separate the streetcars from regular traffic.
Chris replying to a comment from Jordan / April 7, 2014 at 07:50 pm
haha exactly what I thought! Hopefully they change it. Like come on, finding an attractive font should have been the easiest part of making this film!
Frank Sprague replying to a comment from David / April 7, 2014 at 08:15 pm
Yes, they're still Toronto streetcars.
yay / April 8, 2014 at 11:21 am
Nice! Would love to see this doc.
Brad O'Brien / April 11, 2014 at 09:09 am
Thank-you for mentioning my video in your article! I look forward to the IMAX release.
Dirk / May 13, 2015 at 03:11 am
The angle of approach to the skyline in that opening shot is great! I'd love to see that in a movie.
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