How Canada Plans to Compete With California's Increased Film Tax Incentives

The Strain Sean Astin Mia Maestro - H 2014

The Strain Sean Astin Mia Maestro - H 2014

Canadians tout predictable, stable and generous incentives for Hollywood

Hollywood has loved to blame Canada for runaway production.

Now the Canadians are blaming California's film and TV tax credit deal, unveiled on Wednesday, for Los Angeles producers possibly sending less work to Canada.

"There will be a patriotic pressure for the Americans to stay in the United States," said Paul Bronfman, chairman of Pinewood Toronto Studios.

But the Canadians have a plan to fight back.

Canadian industry members plan on making the hard sell to Hollywood by emphasizing their tax credit certainty.

"Where Canada has long recognized the benefits of film and TV tax credits, California is catching up," said Steven Waddell, national executive director of ACTRA, Canada's actor union.

Waddell argues Canadian tax credits remain predictable and stable, unlike budget-strapped U.S. states that often reduce or scrap their film incentives and send Hollywood back to Canada for planning comfort.

"People know the (tax credit) rules. And we have other benefits: top production crews and talent and great infrastructure," he added.

Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal have seen a rebound in Hollywood film and TV shoots on their soundstages and streets after the provinces juiced their tax credits.

Los Angeles producers considering Canadian shots can also combine provincial and federal film tax credits with digital and animation production incentives for FX-heavy movie and TV shoots.

Toronto this year played host to Guillermo del Toro's ghost story horror pic Crimson Peak and his FX TV series The Strain, while the Ben Stiller-starring Night at the Museum 3 was shot in Vancouver, and Montreal hosted Robert Zemeckis' Twin Tower tight-rope walking feature The Walk.

Waddell says some A-listers may convince studios to keep a movie or TV show in Los Angeles so they can drive their kids to school or sleep in their own beds.

But he sees Tinseltown bean-counters still choosing Canada if they identify real savings.

"With productions that may not be star-driven, the producers will continue to do the math and the production folks will make the recommendations to come to Canada," Waddell insists.