Feature production up by 11%, TV plunged

Fear of an actors strike pushed first-quarter feature production in Hollywood up by 11%, but TV production plunged due to the WGA strike, according to permitting agency FilmL.A.

Off-lot feature production improved to 2,065 days for the quarter amid uncertainty over whether the Screen Actors Guild will make a new deal with the majors by the June 30 expiration of its contract. Still, the film activity was 62% below the record level reached in the same quarter of 2001, when permitted days totaled 3,339 as studios ramped up for a possible SAG strike.

TV production, which has been booming in recent years, took a 45% plunge in the first quarter to 3,557 days due to the WGA strike, which ended Feb. 12. During the first quarter of 2007, off-lot smallscreen activity in Hollywood set a record of 6,478 days — 500 days above the second-busiest period, achieved during the third quarter of last year.

FilmL.A. said strike-affected TV dramas saw activity fall 68%, while sitcoms plunged 72% and pilots slid 77%. Reality TV declined 29%.

“Television is the primary production driver in Los Angeles,” commented FilmL.A. rep Todd Lindgren. “Though some scripted shows returned to film additional episodes after the strike ended, others did not.”

FilmL.A. also said strike-related production losses continued after the strike ended. In the last seven weeks of the quarter, volume for TV dramas was down 35% compared to the same period last year while sitcoms were off 51% and pilots declined 70%.

“We predicted it would take some time for television production to get back on its feet after the strike,” Lindgren said. “Unfortunately, our predictions were accurate. By the end of March, seven weeks since the strike’s end, permit volumes had not returned to normal.”

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