Hollywood Production Expenses in British Columbia Down 29% in 2010 (Report)

According to a report by the British Columbia Film Commission, film and TV production dollars came to $1.02 billion, down from 2008 and 2009.

TORONTO – The paparazzi and fans may be chasing Tom Cruise through Vancouver streets on his Mission Impossible 4 shoot, but local Hollywood production expenditures slid last year, the British Columbia Film Commission reported Friday.

Total film and TV production dollars spent in the province in 2010 came to $1.02 billion, well down from $1.31 billion spent in 2009 and $1.2 billion in 2008.

And B.C.’s foreign production spend, mostly by Hollywood, was down sharply last year to $778 million, against $1.09 billion in 2009.

The Canadian dollar surpassing the American greenback in value isn’t fully to blame: Hollywood foreign location shooting rebounded in Ontario last year on the strength of that province’s new all-spend 25% tax credit.

That follows the B.C. provincial government responding by raising the value its foreign film tax credit – the lifeblood for Hollywood studios looking for foreign locations -- but keeping the incentive based on labor costs only.

The result is B.C's just-over $1 billion in total production spend last year just kept it ahead of Ontario, where that province's production sector clocked up $964.3 million in overall activity in 2010, up from a year-earlier $946.4 million and $671.2 million spent locally in 2008 when Hollywood studios pulled back amid the 2008-09 market meltdown.

B.C. had more foreign projects shooting locally last year, 94, against a year-earlier 84.

But while Hollywood TV series and TV movie production held up in Vancouver last year, foreign feature film production was off sharply on lower average production budgets.

In all, 37 foreign movie shoots spent $641.1 million locally in 2009, compared to 36 movies dropping $277.4 million in coin last year.

The B.C. Film Commission reported feature film production during the first quarter of 2010 was slow, before picking up in the second half of the year. Hollywood movies that shot in B.C. last year included The Big Year, Red Riding Hood, Caesar: Rise of the Apes and Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2.

That left TV series, including Hellcats, Eureka, Fringe and Human Target as the main Hollywood production in Vancouver last year, with total foreign TV production expenditures coming in at $391.6 million, up from $373.3 million dropped locally in 2009. Domestic production spending in the western-most province rose last year to $244 million, against $218 million in 2009.