Ontario in April gave its film tax credits for foreign — mostly Los Angeles — producers a haircut, leading to some fears that Hollywood may take its film and TV shoots elsewhere.
That was before the Canadian dollar in 2015 tumbled by around 17 percent in value against the American greenback, only increasing the currency savings for U.S. producers shooting north of the border. The result of the slumping loonie, as the Canadian dollar is known for because of an image of an aquatic bird on the $1 coin: it has spurred Hollywood to return in 2016 with a slew of confirmed big-budget shoots.
Toronto is set to host this coming year shoots for XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, Columbia Pictures’ latest installment of the Vin Diesel-starring action franchise, and Paramount’s Matt Damon- and Reese Witherspoon-starrer Downsizing, with Alexander Payne directing.
On the TV side, Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, FremantleMedia North America’s TV adaptation of the urban fantasy novel picked up by Starz, is set to shoot in Toronto. So is Amblin TV’s Boston-set American Gothic series for CBS.
“Business is looking very positive. All signs point to a fabulous year,” says Paul Bronfman, chairman and CEO of equipment rental giant William F. White International.
Vancouver could enjoy a record 2016 as it looks forward to hosting Hollywood movie shoots like Maze Runner: The Death Cure for 20th Century Fox and ice age survival drama The Solutrean for Studio 8/Sony, and TV series like Bates Motel, Once Upon a Time and Arrow already confirmed to shoot in, and around, the province next year.
“American producers come to British Columbia for many reasons, which include the quality of our talent and crews, the outstanding range of locations that we offer, the investment in infrastructure, a competitive tax policy that provides strong incentives for film and television production and, of course, the favorable exchange rate,” says Robert Wong, vp of Creative B.C., which markets the western Canadian province in Los Angeles.
Continuing drops in the price of oil and other commodities, to which the fortunes of the Canadian dollar are tied, could herald an even lower loonie in 2016 than the current 72 cents range. But Bronfman, who is also chairman of Pinewood Toronto Studios, warns that a busy upcoming year due to added currency savings is a double-edged sword for Canadians.
Because most production equipment is bought stateside, Canadian studio and rental equipment suppliers face steeper capital expenditures next year. And possible record Hollywood production spending locally in 2016 has local film and TV crew members jumping projects for higher pay.
“There’s more work, and people have more of a choice of shows to work on. So we have situations where there’s some greed and entitlement creeping into the industry,” Bronfman says. “We just want to make sure the low dollar doesn’t make us sloppy and entitled.”