TORONTO — It’s been a busy spring for the film and television production industry in Canada’s largest city but there are signs it will be a relatively quiet summer.
Currently there is only one big-budget feature film (Suicide Squad) and one major TV series (Heroes Reborn) scheduled to shoot in Toronto this summer. Smaller projects include a streaming miniseries starring James Franco and a low-budget feature by Ricky Gervais.
Sci-fi series The Expanse and pilots for Minority Report, Taxi 22 and Warrior have wrapped and at least half a dozen projects are scheduled to finish filming in April.
More big projects are looming — including a sequel to the 2013 made-in-Toronto epic Pacific Rim — later this year and in early 2016.
Shooting in Toronto allows producers to take advantage of favourable exchange rates on U.S. dollars, provincial tax credits of 25 per cent and federal rebates of 16 per cent — but the city also offers diverse locations, abundant studio space, experienced crews and plenty of local talent.
Last year, Ontario had 28 per cent of the foreign film and TV production in Canada — less than half of what British Columbia claimed. Among the big projects in Vancouver this year are Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds, Steven Spielberg’s The BFG and a new Star Trek movie directed by Justin Lin.
Montreal this year will host production of big movies like X-Men Apocalypse and Independence Day 2 and the smaller feature The History of Love.
Here’s a look at the film and TV productions currently in Toronto or coming soon:
11/22/63 – James Franco will be in Toronto to make this nine-hour miniseries based on the 2011 Stephen King novel of the same name. Franco plays a high school English teacher who travels back in time to stop the assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy. The miniseries is being produced by Warner Bros. and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot for the U.S. streaming service Hulu. Cameras should start rolling at the end of May.
Suicide Squad – Filming in Toronto as Bravo 14, this big-budget movie from DC Comics stars Will Smith, Jared Leto, Viola Davis, Joel Kinnaman, Cara Delevingne, Margot Robbie, Jai Courtney, Scott Eastwood, Jay Hernandez and Jesse Eisenberg. It’s about a group of super villains assigned to dangerous missions in exchange for less severe prison sentences. David Ayer (Fury) is directing. Suicide Squad is scheduled to shoot from mid-April until the end of August.
Cheerleader Death Squad – Production of the pilot for the latest series pitch from Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids), wraps up in early April. Calgary-born actor Alan Van Sprang (Reign) plays a disgraced CIA agent who becomes a teacher at an elite D.C. prep school, where he trains a pair of students to do covert missions. Gia Mantegna and Abbie Cobb co-star.
Damien – Bradley James (Merlin) plays the titular role in this new series for Lifetime about grown-up Damien Thorn — the mysterious child from 1976’s The Omen. It also stars Barbara Hershey. Cameras will roll on Damien until mid-June.
Defiance – This popular series, which airs in Canada on Showcase, will wrap up production of its third season in early June. Made for U.S. cable channel Syfy, it stars Grant Bowler and Julie Benz.
The Girlfriend Experience – This 13-episode series, for U.S. cable channel Starz, is based on Steven Soderbergh’s 2009 film of the same name. It focuses on the lives of upscale escorts and stars Riley Keough and Briony Glassco.
Hannibal – Filming of the third season of this NBC drama series wraps up at the end of April. Based upon the characters by Thomas Harris, it stars Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy and Gillian Anderson.
Hemlock Grove – Canada’s Landon Liboiron stars with Famke Janssen, Bill Skarsgard and Dougray Scott in this series for streaming service Netflix. Shooting for the third season is done at the end of April.
Heroes: Reborn – A 13-episode limited-run reboot of the NBC series that ran for four seasons beginning in 2006 is scheduled to shoot from early April to mid-September. Masi Oka and Jack Coleman will reprise their roles and newcomers include Zachary Levi and Ryan Guzman.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 – Several scenes for the sequel to the made-in-Toronto comedy starring Nia Vardalos and John Corbett will be shot in the city from mid-May to late June. Andrea Martin returns as Aunt Voula.
Reign – Filming of the sophomore season of The CW’s historical drama wraps up in mid-April. Its cast includes homegrown star Megan Follows as well as Adelaide Kane and Toby Regbo.
Rogue – The first two seasons of this series were shot in Vancouver but production has moved to Toronto for season 3. Cameras are set to roll until mid-November on 20 episodes of this show, starring Thandie Newton and Cole Hauser, for U.S.-based Audience Network.
Schitt’s Creek – Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara and Dan Levy are back for a second season of this CBC comedy series. It is scheduled to shoot from mid-April until the end of June.
Special Correspondents – Writer and actor Ricky Gervais will also direct this feature — an English adaptation of Frédéric Auburtin’s comedy Envoyés Très Spéciaux — in Toronto from May 19 to June 29. Co-starring Eric Bana, it’s about a radio reporter and his technician who fake their own kidnapping during a conflict in South America — and hide out in New York City instead.
The Strain – Production of the second season of this supernatural series for FX will wrap up at the end of April. Corey Stoll, Kevin Durand and David Bradley are back with the rest of the cast.
Suits – The fifth season of Suits, produced for the USA Network, will shoot from early April until mid November. The legal series stars Gabriel Macht, Gina Torres and Toronto’s own Patrick J. Adams.
For updates on what’s shooting in Canada, follow @GlobalJRK.