Hollywood attracted by sagging Canuck dollar

But yo-yoing Canuck dollar plays havoc with studio calculations

TORONTO -- A sagging Canadian dollar has given a shot in the arm to local Hollywood film and TV production north of the border.

Rupert Wyatt's "Planet of the Apes" prequel "Caesar: Rise of the Apes" has set up at the Mammoth Studio in Vancouver to shoot from July 5 to Sept. 30.

Also shooting round the same dates is Catherine Hardwicke's "Red Riding Hood," to star Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons. Jim Rowe is executive producing the project, and Jennifer Killoran and Julie Yorn producing the July 7 to Sept. 21 shoot.

And the Steve Martin and Owen Wilson-starrer "The Big Year" continues its North Vancouver shoot through July 30.

On the TV front, Vancouver is hosting TV series shoots for the fourth season of Syfy's "Eureka," the rookie season for USA Networks' "Facing Kate," with Sarah Shahi and Michael Trucco top-lining, the fifth season of "Psych" and "Tower Prep," which stars Drew Van Acker," Ryan Pinkston, Elise Gatien and Dyana Lui.

A yo-yoing Canadian dollar has played havoc with studio calculations on whether to shoot in Canada, or in rival locales like southern U.S. states or in Eastern Europe.

The Canadian dollar recently going to parity with the American greenback sapped what gains Los Angeles producers received from exploiting the existing production and post-production infrastructure in the Great White North.

More recently, risk-averse currency traders running back to the American greenback in the face of European sovereign debt concerns has helped lift the number of U.S. film and TV shoots here going into the all-important summer shooting season.

The Canadian dollar was trading in the 95.75 cents range Friday in relation to the U.S. dollar.

Across the country in Toronto, there's shoots for Universal Pictures' "The Thing," from director Mathijs Heijningen and starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Joel Edgerton, and the Dennis Lee-directed "Jesus Henry Christ," which stars Toni Collette and Michael Sheen.

Shoots in Toronto so far in 2010 include the Daniel Craig-starrer "Dream House" and "Red," which stars Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren and Morgan Freeman.

Ontario is more thinly placed on the TV series front. The Syfy "Warehouse 13" series is shooting its second season at Toronto's Cinespace Studios complex through August. Otherwise, the city has mostly local TV series shooting locally.

Toronto did manage to land the Disney Channel TV movie "High Stakes," to be directed by Michael Lembeck between June 1 and July 16, and the Cartoon Network and Warner Horizon Television series "Unnatural History, which is shooting through mid-July.

Montreal is similarly stacked with local English- and French-language production, but will host "Twilight" star Kristen Stewart in town to shoot "On The Road" in August at Mel's Cite du Cinema studio.

Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund are also top-lining Walter Salles' big-screen adaptation of Jack Kerouac's classic "On the Road" novel from France's MK2, Film4 in the U.K. and Brazil's Videofilmes.

After her star-turn on "On The Road," Stewart will move over to the next installment of Summit Entertainment's "Twilight" franchise, "Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn," with a question mark over whether competing tax breaks will drive the shoot from Vancouver to New Orleans.
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