Canadian Studio Giant Opens Third Toronto Facility as Hollywood Restarts Production

Toronto April 1 2020
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Ontario called a month-long lockdown for Toronto to start on Dec. 26 and set a new limit of no more than 10 performers on a film set as production continues.

William F. White's new Century Studio complex targets major studios and streamers slowly getting back to work amid strict pandemic safety protocols.

Studio operator William F. White International has opened the doors on its third Toronto facility, Century Studio.

The new studio is located in west Toronto near the company's two other studios, which have been open since 2019. And William F. White is eyeing as possible long-term tenants Hollywood studios or streamers whose back-to-work plans amid the pandemic involve Canada.

"There’s no denying it’s been a difficult year, not only within the film industry, but all over the world. It’s the perfect time to share our latest Toronto studio property with an industry eager to get back to work," Garin Josey, executive vp and COO of William F. White, said Tuesday in a statement. 

The Ontario production sector reopened on June 12, but Hollywood has been slow to restart its production pipeline in Toronto after things shut down in mid-March during the global coronavirus crisis. While entertainment work is considered nonessential, American actors, directors, producers and crew can secure temporary work visas to get across the closed U.S.-Canadian border.

But the big barrier remains the mandatory 14-day quarantine order for Canada as everyone admitted into the country is expected to provide an address for where they will self-isolate for two weeks. Betting American film and TV production in Canada will eventually return to pre-pandemic levels, the operator of the Century Studio complex offers 81,000 square feet of soundstages, production offices, costume and wardrobe and extras-support areas.

Century Studio will also help ease a chronic shortage of quality soundstages in Toronto, which enjoyed a film and TV production boom before the pandemic virtually shut the sector down in March. Last year, Netflix launched a production hub in Toronto by locking up eight soundstages — four each at Pinewood Toronto Studios and Cinespace Film Studios — that in turn sparked a local space race by Hollywood streaming giants scrambling for soundstages on which to create new high-quality film and TV content.

Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets ahead of launching Disney+ and taking full control of Hulu — and rival streaming services from WarnerMedia, Apple and Comcast — has greatly expanded the volume of foreign location shooting in Ontario.