Ontario's fortunes increase after tax credit

$921 million spent locally in 2009, up 41% from 2008

TORONTO -- Incentive-rich Ontario last year saw its film and TV industry return to form after the province raised its tax credit for foreign producers from 18% to 25% in late 2008.

The Ontario Media Development Corp., which markets the province in Hollywood, said Wednesday that Canadian and foreign production companies last year spent CAN$946.4 million ($921 million) filming on location locally, up 41% from CAN$610.56 million in 2008.

Ontario's fortunes could increase still further in 2010 after the province last fall goosed its foreign film tax credit to a 25% all-spend.

The province matched generous tax credits on offer in competing U.S. states such as Louisiana and New Mexico to mitigate the impact of the falling value of the American greenback and reduced movie production in Hollywood during the economic downturn.

Local production remains the bulk of film and TV activity in Ontario, having last year risen 24% to CAN$674.4 million ($643 million) in local spending.

But the Ontario government made good on a pledge to restore lost foreign production activity, which increased by 114% to CAN$145.5 million ($138.5 million).

Hollywood movie production jumped 105% to CAN$161.8 million ($154 million), while American TV series spending added another CAN$58 million ($55.8 million) to local spending last year, compared to $16 million in 2008.