Runaway rivals slowed only by labor

Lure of incentives is great, but crews must be up to task

Runaway productions boost Toronto

Hollywood production is being eroded by a sea of tax incentives, both foreign and domestic.

Not so long ago, incentives offered by Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal were the only breaks on the North American map. Now, 37 states in the U.S. offer some form of production tax credits.

Moreover, over the past few years, the top Canuck spots for runaway production have moved to sweeten incentives to fight off generous offerings from European players such as Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Hungary, which have siphoned off big-budget series and indie actioners; Ireland successfully snagged HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”

Toronto producer J. Miles Dale (“Carrie”) notes that since most producers like to work home home whenever possible, U.S. cities tend to be Canada’s biggest competition for work. Atlanta and Pittsburgh, he says, have seen a steady feature biz of late.

While Toronto has beefed up its studio space and attracted more features, it lost Sony’s sci-fi thriller “Invertigo” to Louisiana, with its big incentives and established production infrastructure.

“It’s all very scientific (and) bottom-line oriented, but the number-crunchers know there’s only a finite number of locals that can handle a big movie,” says Pinewood Studios Toronto CEO Paul Bronfman.

That’s what Hollywood production companies are hoping still gives them an edge.

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