U.S. TV Series Drive Ontario Production Increase in 2014

'The Strain'

Toronto was flush with Hollywood producers looking to make their next hit shows north of the border, including FX's 'The Strain' and USA's 'Suits.'

Ontario racked up another strong year for film and TV production in 2014, helped by a surge in U.S. TV series shoots.

The Ontario Media Development Corp., which markets the province to Hollywood as a foreign locale, on Tuesday reported total production expenditures reached CA$1.29 billion ($1.01 billion) last year, up from CA$1.14 billion in film and TV production activity in 2013.

The foreign, mostly Hollywood film and TV production expenditures last year climbed to their highest level in recent memory, up to CA$503.6 million ($394 million) from CA$372.6 million in activity in 2013. Foreign TV series production jumped to CA$319.3 million ($250 million) in provincial expenditures last year, against a year-earlier CA$246.2 million.

Universal Cable Productions series like Covert Affairs and Suits, which air on USA in the U.S., and Guillermo del Toro’s vampire thriller The Strain, on FX, now in its second year, shot in Ontario. Hollywood feature film production was also strong in 2014, rising to CA$139.3 million ($109 million) in overall activity, against CA$97.7 million in the year-earlier period.

Adam Sandler's comedy Pixels for Sony Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ Crimson Peak for Universal, directed by del Toro and starring Jessica Chastain and Charlie Hunnam, were among the major films to shoot in Toronto last year. The 2014 foreign production levels in Toronto, encouraged by generous tax credits and currency savings, were still down from the go-go early 2000s, when producers, mostly from Hollywood, registered CA$574.4 million worth of production in 2002 alone.

Hollywood film and TV shoots mostly take place in Toronto, but some venture to northern Ontario to tap regional tax credit bonuses for added budgetary savings. Ontario also enjoyed a slight uptick in indigenous film and TV production, which hit CA$790 million ($618.5 million) in total production expenditures in 2014.

That compares with CA$775.2 million in 2013, which was still down from CA$872 million in activity in 2012. Local TV series that shot in Toronto before ending up on U.S. and other foreign schedules included Rookie Blue for Global Television and ABC, and Bitten for the Space and Syfy.

The OMDC reported a decline in local film production that was offset by rising production expenditures for indigenous TV shows.