Studio City Toronto has broken ground on 70,000 square feet of new soundstages, including a 36,000-square-foot jumbo stage for Hollywood studios and streamers to use when they return north to shoot film and TV originals post-pandemic.
The three new stages at 915 Lake Shore Blvd. will see the former Showline Studios complex in Toronto’s Portlands expand to 150,000 square feet of space by February 2021, or six stages, production offices and wardrobe facilities. The three original stages at the city’s Portlands facility played host to local shoots for Hollywood movies like Pacific Rim, Robocop and Jumper.
More recently, Studio City Toronto hosted Warner Bros.’ Titans shoot before Los Angeles producers fled the city in mid-March to shelter back home amid the novel coronavirus’ spread. In 2019, Hollywood location shooting in Canada hit a new high before the COVID-19 pandemic slammed into the Canadian production sector, shuttering all U.S. film and TV shoots in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.
“Studio City’s expansion in our city is another sign of the strength of the film and television sector in Toronto. We are working non-stop to restart our economy, including the film and television industry, in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The start of construction is a great step forward in that process and will help ensure we are ready to open our doors to projects from around the world,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement Monday.
The city of Toronto bought the former Showline Studios complex in 2017 to ensure it remained open for film and TV production, and Studio City Studios has taken over the facility overseen by veteran local stage operators Ken and Linda Ferguson. The 36,000-square-foot jumbo stage to be built at the expanded facility for tentpole movie shoots replaces one at the former 75 Commissioners Street facility nearby, which hosted a shoot for Shazam!, the 2019 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character.
Last year, record Hollywood location shooting in Canada was underpinned by streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime, CBS All Access and Hulu setting up production hubs in Vancouver and Toronto, only to be followed by new rivals like Disney+, AppleTV+ and HBO Max also eyeing currency savings and generous tax breaks when their originals are shot north of the border.
Studio City Toronto has been in talks with a number of major studios and streamers eyeing long-term leases at the expanded facility, but is expected to opt for project-by-project rentals for now. With studio demand having outstripped supply in Toronto before Hollywood shuttered production during the pandemic, the city of Toronto has encouraged the building of new soundstages.
“The loss of the jumbo stage was a real setback for Toronto’s film infrastructure. It’s a relief to hear that its replacement is under construction,” Shazam! unit production manager Greg Denny said in his own statement.