Hollywood continues to dominate Canadian b.o.

Market share for Canadian film fell for the third year running

TORONTO -- Hollywood continues to dominate the Canadian boxoffice, at the expense of homegrown films.

That verdict came Friday from Telefilm Canada, the federal government's film financier, as it released its 2008-09 annual report.

Telefilm reported Canadians spent CAN$919.6 million ($858.5 million) to see movies at the local multiplex in 2008, the last year surveyed, compared to CAN$857.4 million in 2007.

As in past years, virtually all of those dollars went to major studio and indie movies like "Mamma Mia!" and "Juno" as the market share for Canadian film fell for the third year running to 2.9% in 2008, against a year-earlier 3.3%.

Canadian film receipts in 2008 came to CAN$26.3 million ($24.5 million), compared to CAN$28.1 million in 2007.

English-Canadian films did especially poorly. Paul Gross' "Passchendaele," which earned CAN$4.4 million ($4.1 million) in ticket sales, accounted for nearly half of all boxoffice in English-speaking Canada, which came to CAN$8.89 million ($8.4 million) in 2008, or a 1.1% share.

"Passchendaele," an epic war romance, was among only five homegrown films to secure more than CAN$1 million ($930,000) in boxoffice last year. The other four were Quebec films, including "Cruising Bar 2" with CAN$3.4 million ($3.1 million) in receipts and "Babine" with CAN$2.2 million ($2 million).

And Quebec-made films, while still providing the fuel for the Canadian industry critically against Hollywood competition, continued a three-year slide in its share of the Quebec market to 13.1%, against a record share of 26.6% in 2005.

Canada's film industry also continues to be highly dependent on government largesse. Last year, the total budgets for 20 English language films Telefilm invested in came to CAN$92.4 million ($86 million).

And 68% of that financing came from the Canadian Feature Film Fund and other government funding sources, according to the Telefilm report.

Private financing accounted for only 12% of the 20 English language film budgets, and distribution advances for another 11%.

Telefilm Canada executive director Wayne Clarkson is shortly to be replaced at the helm of the federal agency.

During his five-year run, Clarkson oversaw a slide in the overall market share for Canadian film from 5.3% in 2005 to 2.9% last year.
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