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Record $2 billion spent on film, TV productions shot in Toronto in 2016

Toronto’s film and television industry is booming, according to the city. A statement released today says that domestic and foreign production investments in Toronto exceeded $2 billion for the first time in 2016. About $800 million of that came from Hollywood. It was the third consecutive record-setting year for the industry. Mayor Tory called it “epic growth,” and a long-term, sustainable success story, provided the city continues to invest in production facilities.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Hollywood movies like Downsizing, starring Matt Damon, and XXX: The Return of Xander Cage, starring Vin Diesel, as well as TV series like CBS’s Star Trek Discovery, Syfy’s Dark Matter, and Killjoys, and USA Network’s Suits are mainly responsible for the foreign investment. The Oscar-winning movie Suicide Squad was shot in Toronto the previous year and, according to the mayor, employed 4,700 people. The mayor called them “good jobs, skilled jobs, solid jobs” for set designers, editors, directors, special effects, catering, sound, lighting, and actors.

The show Suits, currently in its seventh season, provides “the equivalent” of 2,300 full-time jobs. It stars temporary Toronto resident Meghan Markle, now officially the love interest of HRH Prince Harry and, if the British tabloids are right, soon to be living in Kensington Palace with the spare to the throne. A royal wedding could be coming soon.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, star of Suits, one of many Hollywood TV shows shot in Toronto.

One of the most impressive gains in investment growth has been in animation and visual effects, which saw an increase in investment of 179 per cent, from $144.5 million in 2015 to $403 million in 2016, and a 363 per cent gain from the $87.1 million spent in 2014.

Television production investment, including foreign and domestic, has essentially doubled since 2010, rising from just over $450 million to about $900 million last year. Investment in commercials has also skyrocketed, increasing by 195 per cent over the past two years. In 2009 the spend was less than $100 million; last year it was $380 million.

The number of location filming projects, which includes everything from feature films to TV specials to music videos and TV commercials, was at an all-time high of 1,411 in 2016, the city says, with the total number of shoot days reaching 7.280.

Investment in animation and FX in Toronto shot up in 2016.

The only areas in which spending decreased were in domestic and Canadian co-productions filmed in Toronto. Investment dropped 15.8 per cent from 2015, to $428 million, and investment by broadcasters, which dropped by $61 million.

With investment from broadcasters and the interactive digital media included, the total investment in Toronto’s film, television and digital media production came to $3.26 billion for 2016, a 16 per cent increase over 2015.

The reason for all of this success? According to the chair of the Economic Development Committee, it is Toronto’s “abundance of high quality talent and world-class facilities” with the support of tax incentives from the province and the federal government. Even though the provincial tax incentive was reduced in 2015, dropping from 25 per cent to 21.5 per cent for qualifying production expenditures, Hollywood producers are still enthusiastic about Toronto, which is the third largest film and TV production hub by volume in North America, according to the Hollywood Reporter, after New York and Los Angeles. The weak Canadian dollar apparently more than offsets the reduced tax break.

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