Prod'n rose to levels not seen since 2002

The film and TV industry contributed C$964.3 million ($979 million) to the Ontario economy last year, up $18 million on 2009 as production rose to levels not seen since 2002.

The hike came despite the rising value of the Canuck loonie against the dollar and tax break competition on both sides of the border.

While domestic production remained stable at $656 million, just a slight dip from last year, statistics released by the Ontario Media Development Corp. on Wednesday showed a major spike in productions of foreign TV series.

“Falling Skies” (DreamWorks/Turner), “Breakout Kings” (20th Century Fox/A&E) and the third season of “Warehouse 13″ (NBC/Universal) were among 16 productions, up from six in 2009, contributing almost $121 million to the Canuck pot, up from $59 million.

Summit’s “Red” and Universal’s remake of “The Thing” were among 20 foreign features shot in the province, up from nine in 2009, but smaller budgets overall meant the take was actually lower, $161.5 million vs. last year’s $164.5 million.

Enhancements to the Ontario production services tax credit last year, extending the break to a wider range of costs, are reflected in the increased spending.

With high-profile features including “Total Recall” and several new and returning series set to shoot this winter, OMDC’s Film Commission says the picture looks bullish for 2011.

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