Canada Getting Even Cheaper for Hollywood

Vancouver Canada - H 2015
AP Images

Vancouver Canada - H 2015

The loonie tanking in value against the American greenback has grown currency savings for Los Angeles producers shooting locally.

The weak Canadian dollar already has Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal busy with Hollywood movies and TV series shooting locally this summer.

But the loonie, as Canada’s dollar coin is known, tumbling in value against the American greenback appears set to lure even more Los Angeles producers across the border in 2016, say local industry players. Pierre Moreau, national commissioner at the Quebec Film and Television Council, which markets the province to Los Angeles as a foreign locale, told The Hollywood Reporter that the major studios are already putting holds on Montreal sound-stages for tentpoles to shoot next year.

"They're gearing up for what will be preproduction after the Christmas holidays and to start building sets and to shoot as quickly as they can in 2016," he said. X-Men: Apocalypse, directed by Bryan Singer and starring Jennifer Lawrence and James McAvoy, and the Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner-starring sci-fi pic Story of Your Life, directed by Denis Villeneuve, are shooting in Montreal this summer.

And Toronto has been busy with local shoots for Warner Bros.' Suicide Squad and Ricky Gervais' directorial debut, Special Correspondents, while Vancouver has hosted movie shoots for the Ryan Reynolds-starrer Deadpool and Steven Spielberg's The BFG. U.S. network TV series have also been thick on the ground shooting in Canada.

"If they (U.S. producers) know that their TV series will be renewed, they should buy their money now," said Linda Ferguson, general manager of Toronto studio Revival 629, on Wednesday about U.S. producers stocking up on the Canadian dollar before cameras roll here later this year and next.

"I know they (L.A. producers) like Ontario. Even though our tax credit was clawed back a little, it's still a good tax credit. And the 77-cent dollar is just a big bonus," Ferguson added. The Canadian dollar on Wednesday fell 1.5 percent to 77.39 cents against the U.S. dollar after the Bank of Canada cut its key rate for the second time this year.

Janice Reid Johnston, acting Ontario film commissioner at the Ontario Media Development Corp., said it was too early to predict production levels for 2016 in the province. But she added the falling Canadian dollar has helped keep Ontario competitive with rival locales.

"A low dollar does help us to ensure that Ontario is on the shortlist when people are looking at a jurisdiction to film in," Reid Johnston said. With the U.S. Fed expected to raise rates south of the border, the Canadian dollar is expected to sink in value still further into 2016.

Paul Bronfman, chairman of Pinewood Toronto Studios and CEO of William F. White International, a major production equipment rental supplier, said the weak Canadian dollar had obvious benefits for the local production sector. But he warned against the Canadian industry getting complacent in boom times.

"There's rival jurisdictions out there that want to take a piece of the Canadian pie," he said, pointing to Atlanta, New York City, Los Angeles and New Orleans remaining key competitors for Hollywood North.