Prod'n down 40% from Dec., down 77% from Jan. 2001

Off-lot feature shoots in Los Angeles fell to deeply depressed levels in January with the upsurge in development not yet translating to actual shooting.

Permitted production days totaled only 256 last month, down 40% from 427 in December and a stunning 77% from January 2001, according to figures released Tuesday by the Entertainment Industry Development Corp.

“Activity has still not picked up in features to the degree we had hoped, although it’s been getting better recently,” said Steve Dayan, business rep for Local 399 Location Managers of the Teamsters. “The problem is that the industry can’t turn on a dime after being slow late last year. We’re still very confident of a significant improvement in the next four to eight weeks.”

The latest figure offers a sharp contrast to the super-charged activity of early 2001 when every month from January to June totaled more than 1,000 days as producers stockpiled in anticipation of writers and actors strikes.

The decline in features has been attributed to the combined effects of stockpiling, the recession and the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“We are still seeing the impact of last year’s ramp-up on the January numbers,” said EIDC VP Morrie Goldman. “There are a lot of projects ramping up, so we expect feature activity to start rebounding in February and March.”

TV activity has remained solid, however. January’s off-lot TV total was more than four times that of features, with 1,062 permitted days — up 15% from 906 days in December.

Commercials activity showed a rebound as it hit 562 days, up 35% from December. Still, the sector remains far below last year’s peak of 810 days, hit in January 2001.

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