U.S. feature pics shot in Toronto since January are up over the same period last year. “MGM, 20th Century Fox and Disney are back; that’s been the big difference,” says Naish McHugh, the city’s film liaison.

Tv production, he notes, is normally slow until later this month (May), when locally filmed series such as “E.N.G,” “Street Legal” and “Top Cops,” among others, resume shooting. McHugh and crew dealt with location permits and other requests for seven features, five more than for the same period in ’90.

Buena Vista had Goldie Hawn-toplined “The Mrs.” before cameras; 20th Century Fox had both David Cronenberg’s “Naked Lunch, ” for which the studio has U.S. rights, and Julie Kavner-toplined “This Is My Life.” MGM brought in “Cutting Edge,” with D.B. Sweeney and Moira Kelly. “The impetus we got last year from the U.S. majors carried us over into this year,” says McHugh.

“The entire industry worked together to persuade them to come back last year. Non-studio pics shot and completed locally since January were Judy Davis-toplined “On My Own,” an Italian-Canadian-Australian co-prod; Toronto Norstar Entertainment’s “Prom Night IV – Deliver Us From Evil” and Hong Kong-backed, “North of Chiang Mai.”

The 7% Federal Goods and Services Tax, applicable since Jan. 1 on all purchases and fees, “doesn’t seem to be a factor in making production stay away,” McHugh notes. Neither does the Canadian dollar, which has been at 86 cents against the American dollar so far this year.

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