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Stage monopoly crimps Montreal shooting

Canadian Creativity 2012

Last year, Hollywood filming was booming in Montreal but 2011 could have been even more of a blockbuster year if the city had more available studio space.

That’s because the city only has one major full-service studio facility in Mel’s Cite du Cinema, something many visiting producers grumble about.

Producers typically like to have three local studios so they can negotiate with them and come up with a better rate.

The near-monopoly of Mel’s led to Quebec funding agency Sodec publishing a report earlier this summer, which concluded that it might be time for the government to do a feasibility study to see if the city could bring in another major film studio.

Michele St-Arnaud is scouting locations for Roland Emmerich’s “White House Down,” which is lensing in Montreal, and she says the pricey pic has booked all the major stages at Mel’s. There is another American movie prepping to shoot in the fall in Montreal but “RED 2” will be shot entirely on location.

“There’s not another movie that could come into town looking for stages,” St-Arnaud says. “Imagine if there was another humongous stage. That’s what we’re lacking.”

But Michel Trudel — who is partnered with Mel Hoppenheim in Mel’s Cite du Cinema — says the seasonal nature of the shooting biz in Montreal makes it unlikely that other players will set up a major studio.

It’s rare that Hollywood producers shoot in Montreal during the winter months.

“No one is going to build over $100 million in infrastructure,” Trudel says. “I don’t see that.”

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