Hollywood Production in Canada Hits New High on Currency, Tax Credits

Michael Gibson/CBS
'Star Trek: Discovery'

Canadian indie producers report foreign location shooting jumped 26 percent to a record $4.77 billion in 2018 as 'Star Trek: Discovery' and 'Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan' went north to shoot.

Hollywood location shooting in Canada soared last year to a new high, lifted by a low Canadian dollar and generous film tax breaks, according to a report by local indie film and TV producers.

The 26 percent year-on-year jump to CAN$4.77 billion (US$3.55 billion) in total foreign film and TV production activity north of the border came as U.S. pics like Overboard, Molly’s Game and X-Men: Dark Phoenix either shot or were posted locally, according to the Profile 2018 report unveiled by the Canadian Media Producers Association on Thursday.

And big-budget series such as The Handmaid's Tale, Suits and Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan also shot locally as content-hungry streamers like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu boosted their production expenditures in Canada. 

British Columbia, enjoying close proximity to Los Angeles, saw the biggest jump in Hollywood location shooting, from CAN$2.31 billion in 2017 to CAN$3.04 billion (US$2.24 billion) last year, or nearly 64 percent of all foreign activity in Canada. Foreign production expenditures in Ontario last year edged up to CAN$910 million (US$679 million), against CAN$882 million in 2017.

Canada continues to draw Hollywood north on the strength of the low Canadian dollar, compared to the American greenback, and generous tax breaks that allow Vancouver and Toronto to compete with rival locales like Louisiana and Georgia.

With the total volume of film and TV production in Canada last year rising 5.9 percent to a record CAN$8.92 billion (US$6.65 billion), Hollywood film and TV production volume now overshadows local Canadian film and TV production (which includes Quebec's French-language production) as Vancouver and Toronto live up to their reputations as Hollywood North.

Canadian content production last year fell 8.8 percent to CAN$3.04 billion (US$2.27 billion) as local broadcasters financed fewer projects amid cord-cutting and digital disruption. Besides U.S. producers, Canada also last year hosted its largest number of foreign film and TV projects that shot locally from the U.K., France and Germany.