Reports of Jennifer Lopez sightings in Smithers may not be unfounded.
The popular singer, actress, producer and dancer is currently filming a new Netflix thriller called The Mother with filming locations in the Lower Mainland and the Bulkley Valley.
The Smithers District Chamber of Commerce has confirmed a crew is in the area as of this week, although local filming has not yet commenced. The Interior News has not been able to officially verify if the star has actually set foot in town.
The Chamber has provided welcome packages for cast and crew outlining businesses, restaurants, entertainment opportunities and recreational activities in the area.
Smithers mayor Gladys Atrill said it is huge for Smithers in a number of ways whenever big productions like this come to town.
“First of all, it’s a project and it brings people and work and money, but it also brings a nice boost to the community culture,” she said. “It’s something people get excited about, it’s not something we have every day. It does bring a little pizzazz into the everyday and I think I enjoy that part as much as many other people do.”
As chair of Smithers Tourism, Atrill said she was first alerted to the producers’ intention to use Smithers last spring and noted that location managers view the valley as having natural assets that make it attractive to filmmakers.
“It’s the fact that we have mountains close to amenities,” she said. “There’s a key timing ratio there that’s really important because it is a business and the time that’s spent transporting people matters because it takes time away from the actual production time.
“Also, I have heard it from the production office here again this year that people just feel really welcomed here. So, while it feels exciting to us, that transmits into a welcome to the people who are working and it’s appreciated.”
In terms of tourism, Atrill said there is no way to determine quantitatively what it means financially to the town, but it certainly does not hurt the valley’s reputation.
“Anecdotally, in the past, we have heard from people who have been here on production, who have not been here [before] and realized there is an amazing opportunity to come back here at a different time,” she said.
The Mother is primarily in production in the Lower Mainland with Vancouver playing the role of New York City. The First Nation community of Seabird Island, just east of Agassiz will also make an appearance in the movie.
Lopez plays an assassin who comes out of hiding to protect her estranged daughter from dangerous assailants.
According to the entertainment website IMDB, filming is scheduled to be completed Jan. 28, 2022, with a release date sometime later in the year.
The film also stars Gael García Bernal and Joseph Fiennes.
The Bulkley Valley’s picturesque alpine-themed town first caught the attention of Hollywood in 2005 when legendary producer Frank Marshall (Indiana Jones) brought the Disney production Eight Below to Smithers.
In 2011, Tinsel Town came calling again with The Grey, a survival film starring Liam Neeson.