Hollywood Film Spending Falls in Vancouver as TV and Local Productions Grow

Doane Gregory/Fox 2000 Pictures

Jackson as a Greek satyr in “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.”

British Columbia's provincial government's refusal to increase movie tax credits has Los Angeles producers continuing to migrate to Ontario and other rival locales.

TORONTO – Higher local film and TV production helped offset a steep fall in Hollywood movie production in British Columbia last year, according to the latest production stats from the provincial government.

Total domestic and foreign production expenditures in and around Vancouver in 2012 was up 2.3 percent to $1.216 billion, against a year-earlier $1.189 billion spent locally.

But the west-coast province, a centerpiece of Hollywood north due to its proximity to Los Angeles, saw total foreign production expenditures last year fall to $891.6 million, against $979.7 million in 2011.

Los Angeles producers spent $418 million last year on TV series production, up from $387.5 million in 2011.

Ontario has seen a similar rise in U.S. TV series shooting north of the border, despite a high Canadian dollar, compared to the American greenback, and stepped up competition from rival locales wooing Hollywood location shoots.

But foreign movie production, mostly by the major studios, dropped sharply to $323.8 million in 2012, compared to a year-earlier $430 million in budget expenditures made locally.

Hollywood movie titles shot in the province last year included Hidden for Warner Bros. Pictures and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters for 20th Century Fox.

Vancouver also completed visual effects on a host of Hollywood movie titles.

The loss in Hollywood movie production, in part to Ontario where Los Angeles producers can tap a 25 percent all-spend film tax credit, was offset by domestic film and TV production last year rising sharply to $324.2 million in total budget expenditures, against $209 million in 2011.

British Columbia has been held back by its provincial government so far being unwilling to match all-spend film tax credits available to Hollywood producers in Ontario and Quebec, and for next month eliminating its harmonized sales tax, which will further reduce producer savings.

Vancouver producers and studio operators have lobbied the provincial government to sweeten film tax incentives to keep talent and location shoots from migrating elsewhere.

Bill Bennett, the province’s community, sports and cultural development minister, in a statement said Vancouver remained a close second to Toronto as a production hub, “despite Ontario’s unsustainable subsidies.”

At the same time, Bennett conceded the last quarter of 2012 saw a “dramatic decline in production” in British Columbia.

He added the government would work closely with the government to “actively monitor the industry” through 2013.