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Ontario film & TV biz hits a new high

Ontario’s film and television production boom shows no signs of tapering off as this year’s production levels soared past a record set in 1992.

Ontario Film Development Corporation figures indicated the number of projects shot in the province jumped 41% to 137 in 1993.

Film office chief executive Paul Gratton noted that the production gains were “a remarkable achievement,” particularly after the cancellation of five Ontario-based television series, including “Maniac Mansion” and “Counterstrike.”

Production expenditures increased 3.5% to $ C337.8 million ($ 270.2 million) compared with last year. (The dollar figure reflects productions that received funding or location assistance from the flim office. It does not include production ventures not financed by the film office, such as commercial production, some in-house broadcast production and corporate videos.)

The gains came largely from an 18% increase in foreign shoots and an upswing in Canada-U.S. co-productions. Among the big budget Canadian/American ventures are “Tekwar,” four two-hour telepix; and the television series “RoboCop.”

Foreign production expenditures reached $ 55.2 million in 1993, up from $ 46. 8 million in 1992. Canadian production expenditures remained constant at $ 214 million.

Gratton attributes the surge in production to several factors: expanded marketing efforts; a devalued Canadian dollar that further increases cost efficiency; the maturity of the province’s film industry; and the Ontario Film Investment Program, the Ontario film office’s investment rebate plan. “The $ 11. 2 million this program rebates to film investors each year provides a financial anchor for our independent production sector,” Gratton said.

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