U.S. runaways lead to Ontario prod’n hike

Canuck film/tv industry hits record high $646 mil

MONTREAL — Runaway production from the United States helped drive film and TV production spending in the Canadian province of Ontario to a record high of C$934 million ($646 million). The 1999 production total was up 26% from $514 million the previous year.

Foreign producers spent $306 million in the province in 1999, up from $240 million in 1998. The non-Canadian growth was spurred in part by the introduction last year of a provincial tax credit for foreign producers. Five U.S. TV series shot in Ontario last year, up from one the year before.

The number of Canadian features shot in Ontario dipped to 17 last year from 21 in 1998, and production expenditures for Canuck features declined 37%.

“The domestic share of total production seems to be declining over time as a percentage of total production expenditures in the province,” said Adam Ostry, CEO of provincial funding agency the Ontario Film Development Corp. “It is important to address this difference in performance because Ontario’s domestic producers represent the industrial base of the sector. The long-term health and sustainability of growth in this industry, including the foreign production sector, depend on a healthy industrial base.”

Domestic production accounted for 53% of the spending in Canada’s most populated province, down from 65% in 1997. Local producers accounted for $340 million worth of activity last year, up from $274 million in 1998. The main motor of the growth was Canadian TV production, which grew from $234 million in 1998 to $314 million, a 35% increase.

Canuck TV series spent $254 million, accounting for 75% of all domestic production.

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