Canada sees surge in film prod'n to record

MONTREAL — A big-time surge in runaway production from the U.S. helped spur film production to record levels last year in Canada, according to just-released figures from the Canadian Film and Television Production Assn.

Total production activity in Canada grew 14% to hit C$3.7 billion ($2.6 billion). The most extensive growth came in the amount of foreign shooting, which increased 34% to reach $760 million. Canadian-content production rose 12% to $1.1 billion, while treaty co-productions nearly doubled to $568 million.

“It’s a buoyant industry,” said Elizabeth McDonald, president of the Canuck producers association. “I don’t think it’s taking away opportunities from the Americans. Canada is an easy target. I don’t think it’s runaway production. There’s an insatiable demand to fill, with more shelf space and channels.”

Growth across the board

Foreign revenues were also up for Canada producers, rising 23% to $1.1 billion. All of the regions of Canada showed strong growth. The four Atlantic provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland) saw growth of 35% to $83 million, while revenues in the prairie provinces of Manitoba and Alberta grew 37% to $156 million.

The leading province in terms of production was Ontario, with $966 million in spending, due mainly to a 57% increase in foreign shooting. Quebec was second with $828 million. Over the past three years, Quebec has upped its share of total production in Canada from 28% to 31%, while Ontario’s share of total production has declined from 45% to 38%. British Columbia is third with $527 million, up 28%.

The Canadian Film and Television Production Assn. figures cover a slightly different time period than the figures released by the different provincial film funders, which cover the calendar year. British Columbia, for example, had a late-year production surge, which is not reflected in the association’s figures, but will be counted in next year’s tally.

Television production in Canada grew 9% to $1.9 billion, while feature-film shooting increased 33% to $602 million.

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