Ontario Posts Record Production Spend in 2011

Hollywood location shooting in the Canadian province was up sharply last year as Columbia Pictures' "Total Recall" and five NBCUniversal TV shows were produced locally.

TORONTO – Rebounding foreign location shooting helped lift Ontario’s film and TV industry to a record $1.26 billion in total production activity in 2011.

The Ontario Media Development Corp., which markets the province in Hollywood, reported domestic production expenditures reached $852.1 million last year, up 32 percent from total expenditures of $646.2 million in 2010.

The $412.9 million in foreign film and TV production expenditures in Ontario last year was 30 percent up on a $318.1 million total spend in 2010.

At the same time, the 2011 level was down from the go-go early 2000s, when foreign, mostly Hollywood producers racked up $574.4 million worth of production in 2002 alone.

A year later, that figure collapsed to $370 million as a host of Los Angeles producers gave Toronto a miss due to the 2003 SARS medical epidemic in the city.

Ontario has since recovered from SARS, and stepped-up competition U.S. southern states and other foreign locales, by juicing its film tax credit for foreign producers to a 25 percent all-spend.

The result is a five-year rise in total production volumes, coming as local digital tax credits for visual effects and animation work also helps Ontario soften the impact of Hollywood making fewer big-budget projects and the American greenback drawing to parity with the Canadian dollar.

Foreign feature film spending in 2011 came to $231.6 million, up 45 percent from a year-earlier $159.3 million, as high-profile shoots like Columbia Pictures’ Total Recall remake and Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim for Legendary Pictures set up at Pinewood Toronto Studios.

Domestic movie shoots in Ontario were also up sharply, to $166 million in total production expenditures last year, against $62.6 million in 2010.

Canadian movies that shot in Ontario last year included David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil: Retribution and Michael J. Bassett’s Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.

Foreign TV series shoots were also up sharply, from $150.2 million last year, compared to $119.0 million in 2010, including five shows from NBCUniversal: Warehouse 13, Suits, Covert Affairs, Against The Wall and Alphas.