Tax credit lures foreign productions to province

TORONTO — Ontario film and TV production activity in 2009 rose 41% from the previous year, contributing C$946.4 million ($904 million) to the provincial economy, according to the Ontario Media Development Corp.

Province’s 25% tax credit, which took effect last June and has since been expanded to cover eligible costs beyond labor, was the big carrot contributing to a 114% increase in total foreign spending ($139 million).

Foreign feature spending increased from $75.5 million to $154.5 million, while foreign TV series spending rocketed from $15.3 million in 2008 to $55.4 million last year.

Domestic biz was also brisk, with overall production spending up 23.8% to $644.2 million. While the number of domestic productions was similar to 2008, average budget was up almost 100%.

“Despite economic challenges and a strong Canadian dollar, Ontario has consistently demonstrated it has the right mix of government support, financial incentives, world-class infrastructure, superb talent and skills and diverse locations to attract outstanding foreign and domestic productions,” OMDC prexy and CEO Karen Thorne-Stone said. “Early indications point to 2010 being another strong year.”

“Red,” a spy thriller starring Bruce Willis, is currently shooting in Toronto.

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