Co. nabs Cine Cite Montreal, Ice Storm

MONTREAL — Mel’s Cite du Cinema, already one of Canada’s leading film studios, just got bigger, thanks to the acquisition of two other Montreal studio complexes.

Mel’s Cite du Cinema owners Trudel and Mel Hoppenheim announced Tuesday that they have purchased the Cine Cite Montreal studio in the suburb of St. Hubert and the Ice Storm Studio in Montreal.

Both were owned by Toronto-based Moli-Flex White and its subsidiary Productions Luc Dussault. The studios had been placed under bankruptcy protection last month. No price was disclosed for the acquisition. The deal was arranged by PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is acting as the court-appointed receiver for Moli-Flex White and Luc Dussault.

With the acquisition, Mel’s Cite du Cinema adds 10 soundstages, giving it a total of 23. That solidifies Mel’s position as one of the dominant film studios in the Great White North.

Mel’s already was attracting many major Hollywood shoots to Canada. Among pics lensing there recently are Martin Scorsese’s Leonardo DiCaprio starrer “The Aviator,” Roland Emmerich’s disaster epic “The Day After Tomorrow” and Halle Berry thriller “Gothika.”

The two new studio facilities both will be kept open, Locations Michel Trudel president Trudel told Daily Variety. Cine Cite has been a troubled facility for years, partly because its location, across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal, makes for a potentially lengthy commute. But Trudel said Cine Cite’s problems had more to do with “too much staff and too high salaries.”

He admitted the location of Cine Cite was a problem for feature film producers, but said it’s perfect for longer TV series shoots.

Mel’s Cite du Cinema will rehire seven to nine people who had been laid off at Cine Cite and Ice Storm.

With the deal, Mel’s becomes the only major studio owner in Quebec. There are no major Hollywood films so far set to shoot in Montreal in 2004, but Trudel said reps from 17 American productions are coming to Montreal to scout locations in January and February.

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