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Foreign TV Shoots Boost Ontario’s Economy

Features drop but network series rep $943 million in local spending

TORONTO — U.S. series including NBCUniversal’s “Hannibal” and “Defiance” and Netflix’s “Hemlock Grove” are among skeins that helped boost Ontario’s revenue from film and TV production to C$1.28 billion ($1.25 billion) in 2012, up from $1.22 billion in 2011.

Despite a dip in foreign and domestic film spending, the TV sector made up the difference, with domestic and foreign series representing 76% ($943 million) of Ontario’s 2012 total driven by an uptick in foreign, primarily U.S., series — up almost 80% from $146 million in 2011 to $263 million in 2012.

According to the Ontario Media Development Corp., 18 foreign skeins shot in Ontario last year.

In Toronto, the province’s production hub, local industryites have noted a higher level of client retention the past two years, reversing the previous trend of series shooting one season in town then moving on.

“These 2012 production levels are a testament to the heavy lifting that we and other stakeholders have committed to in order to create a positive and productive environment for film and television in Ontario,” said Jim Mirkopoulos, VP of operations at Cinespace studios, where the fifth season of NBCU’s “Warehouse 13” and Paul W.S. Anderson’s sword-and-sandals pic “Pompeii” will lense this year.

“Lost Girl,” “Rookie Blue” and “Beauty and the Beast” were among 140 Canadian series that spent $679 million in Ontario in 2012, up from 2011’s $609 million.

Foreign feature spending fell to $103.5 million from 2011’s record $266 million. That total included Sony’s “Total Recall” and Legendary Pictures’ “Pacific Rim,” two of the biggest foreign features ever shot in Ontario. Both lensed at Pinewood Toronto Studios.

Domestic features spent $120 million in 2012, a drop from 2011’s $161 million. Though there were more projects — 39 vs. the previous year’s 28 — budgets were lower.

As of Feb. 22, Ontario had 21 productions shooting or in prep, including season two of BBC America’s “Copper” and Malcolm Lee’s “Best Man II” (Universal).

The OMDC stats do not include commercials, corporate or music videos or broadcaster inhouse production.

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