Ontario film, TV biz breaks earnings record

Foreign spend rises despite strength of Canuck currency

Ontario’s film and TV industry contributed a record $1.26 billion to the provincial economy in 2011, up 31% on 2010, according to Ontario Media Development Corp. prexy and CEO Karen Thorne-Stone.

“It is a testimonial to the fact that Ontario offers a total package of incentives to attract foreign and domestic productions,” Thorne-Smith said at the Economic Club of Canada in Toronto on Tuesday.

Foreign spending rose 30% to $412.9 million — despite the strength of the Canadian loonie against the U.S. greenback and tax-break competition from other North American regions. Foreign feature spending increased 45% to $231.6 million, with TV spending up 26% to $150.2 million.

“With its strong infrastructure, reliable tax credit, professional crew base and many architectural styles and diverse locations available throughout the region, each of our series is able to find all the resources they need in Ontario,” said Mark Binke, senior VP of cable & digital production for Universal Cable Prods./NBCUniversal.

Overall, domestic spending rose 32% to $852.1 million. Domestic film increased a whopping 165% to $165.9 million due to an abundance of co-productions, including “Resident Evil: Retribution,” “Cosmopolis” and “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D.”

Domestic TV production grew 34% to $626.7 million. (OMDC stats do not include broadcasters’ in-house production.)

OMDC’s Film Commission projects a rosy 2012. There were 24 productions shooting or in prep as of Jan. 20 — an exceptionally large number so early in the year.

OMDC is a provincial government agency that facilitates economic development for Ontario’s cultural media industries.

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