B.C. surpasses Ontario as top production locale for films, TV: report

Canadian Media Producers Association says the 2016-2017 fiscal year was strong for Canada overall

British Columbia, the home of blockbuster movie shoots such as “Deadpool 2” and “Star Trek Beyond,” has surpassed Ontario as Canada’s top locale for film and television production for the first time.

A new report by the Canadian Media Producers Association says the 2016-2017 fiscal year was strong for Canada overall, with production volume in the country reaching an all-time high of $8.38 billion.

B.C. has always been in the top three provinces for film and TV shoots, but the report says last year its production volume hit $2.991 billion, just ahead of Ontario with $2.977 billion. Quebec, with its thriving French-language industry, placed third with $1.754 billion.

Robert Wong, vice president of Creative BC, the provincial agency that supports the artistic sector, said increased global demand for content and the recognition that B.C. is a world-class production centre are driving the growth.

He said streaming services, including Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, are the single biggest driver. Netflix’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “Altered Carbon,” premiering Friday, were shot in the province.

“Blockbuster movies, we do get our fair share of them in British Columbia, that’s for sure, but really what we are known for is television production,” Wong said.

“The amount of television production is really where the growth is and that includes the streaming service-type productions.”

The report says the film and television industries generated 24,120 direct full-time jobs in B.C. — only 40 more than Ontario — while it created 14,540 such jobs in Quebec.

“Star Trek Beyond” alone employed more than 3,900 British Columbians and contributed $69 million to the provincial economy during 78 days of shooting, the report adds.

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Film and television productions in B.C. receive a 28 per cent tax credit for labour costs. The credit was reduced five points from 33 per cent by the previous provincial Liberal government in 2016.

Wong said a stable and reliable tax policy is key to the success of the industry, but it’s also coupled with an abundance of talent, crews and variety of locations in B.C.

“The one thing that you can’t legislate is basically proximity to Los Angeles,” he added. “Being in the same time zone and two and a half hours away by flight does make a big difference.”

The report does sound a note of caution about the surge in demand for content and the abundance of foreign productions in Canada. Though the country has policies to support local content, capturing more than three per cent of domestic box office for Canadian films remains elusive, it says.

“With record growth across much of Canada’s production sector, there is much to celebrate this year, including the creation of jobs and a significant contribution to the country’s economy,” said Reynolds Mastin, president and CEO of the association in a statement.

“But, among these big numbers are some emerging trends that require attention. As our industry continues to adapt to evolving technologies and changing consumer behaviours, we must ensure that growth benefits our entire sector, including productions that showcase Canadian stories for audiences at home and around the world.”

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

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