CBS Launches Branded Stages Canada Studio in Toronto

George Pimentel
From left: David Stapf, Sonequa Martin-Green, Perry Mattfeld and Armando Nunez

"We're here and we're here for good," CBS Television Studios head David Stapf told The Hollywood Reporter about $200 million in annual production expected on six branded soundstages.

CBS Television Studios on Thursday unveiled CBS Stages Canada as the first Hollywood studio-branded facility in Canada, with six soundstages over 260,000 square feet of space.

David Stapf, president of CBS Television Studios, told The Hollywood Reporter that his company has long produced originals in Toronto and established deep creative and production ties locally. "But we didn't have a place to call home. That's what we really wanted. So branding it 'CBS' was important in telling the community we're here, and we're here for good. And we are your partners and good partners," he explained.

The multi-use production studio, which includes production offices and support facilities, currently hosts a shoot for In The Dark. CBS estimates its branded CBS Stages Canada facility will generate around $200 million in annual production expenditures and 300 jobs on an average day when all six soundstages are filled.

And while CBS shows should go far in filling the Toronto facility, the studio expects to partner with a host of local players on global series, or rent out space to outside producers. "It's really no different than our studios in Los Angeles," said Armando Nuñez, president and CEO of CBS Global Distribution Group, as CBS soundstages in Hollywood are either filled with its own originals or rented out to non-affiliated producers.

"I anticipate with six soundstages that CBS will keep this place pretty busy, but are we open to doing outside productions here, sure," Nuñez added. Another model is bringing in local Canadian producers and broadcasters — long aggressive buyers of American primetime series via studio output deals — as financing and production partners at the development stage, as CBS did on earlier Toronto-shot series like Reign and Beauty and the Beast.

CBS will continue to build its development slate from Los Angeles and decide what to produce, where and how, "but now we have a place we call home that is needed up here, as production space is needed," said Nuñez.

Production on Star Trek: Discovery already fills a number of soundstages at Pinewood Toronto Studios. Canadian broadcaster Bell Media is the local partner on the CBS All-Access drama, while Netflix streams Star Trek: Discovery elsewhere internationally, and CBS is starting to license the series to free-to-air broadcasters.

Nuñez and Stapf expect to do more series partnerships with Canadian broadcasters, while shooting locally, as another way to get its development slate financed and in front of the cameras for global exploitation. And here CBS sees a tailwind given the rising appetite for content worldwide.

"So we're going to have continued aspirations to produce more and more. Whether that includes additional studios, it's premature to say," Nuñez said with the paint not yet fully dry on his new Toronto facility.

CBS Television Studios currently has 70 series in production, including shows for the CBS Television Network, The CW, the CBS All Access streaming service and programming for networks and platforms outside of CBS.

"If it works and the opportunities avail themselves down the road, it's certainly something we would consider," Stapf added about possibly launching similar CBS-branded studios elsewhere internationally.