B.C. keeps up prod'n pace

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MONTREAL -- Film and television production in British Columbia maintained a strong pace in 2006, despite a high Canadian dollar and competition from foreign locations dampening the number of Hollywood film and TV shoots, the B.C. Film Commission reported Thursday.

Total film and TV production spending in the province came to CAN$1.2 billion ($1 billion) last year, just off from the CAN$1.2 billion in production expenditures in 2005.

But a surge in homegrown film and TV production -- to CAN$278 million ($241 million) last year, against a year-earlier CAN$225 million -- helped offset a 6% drop in foreign production expenditures to CAN$950 million ($822 million).

"B.C. continues to perform exceptionally well, despite the realities of a strong Canadian dollar and global competition," Stan Hagen, the provincial minister of tourism, sport and the arts, said in a statement.

In all, 230 productions were shot in B.C. last year, including 53 feature films, 39 television series, 63 TV movies, 33 documentaries, 18 animation projects and 12 TV pilots.

Major Hollywood shoots in British Columbia last year included "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," "Smallville" and "Stargate: Atlantis."

British Columbia is the third-largest film service industry in North America, after Los Angeles and New York.
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