If you’ve spotted one of the many crews set up around Metro Vancouver recently, it’s likely no surprise to you that B.C.’s film industry is booming.
According to Creative BC, the independent agency charged with promoting creative industries in the province, that’s not just movie magic: the latest numbers show motion picture productions are set to spend a record amount in the province this year.
Boosted by a low Canadian dollar, motion picture expenditures in B.C. are estimated to top $2.6 billion this fiscal year – the highest ever – up 35 per cent from 2015-2016.
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The agency says 338 productions qualified for tax credits this year, up from 297 last year.
According to B.C.’s 2017 budget, those credits will cost taxpayers $391 million.
Last year, the former BC Liberal government moved to scale back the province’s film tax credit regime, which it said was getting too expensive in the face of the growing number of productions.
Earlier this year, a report from the Motion Picture Association of Canada estimated that production on a single television program, The CW’s superhero program Arrow, was worth more than $360 million to B.C.’s economy.
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Metro Vancouver currently hosts about two dozen television productions, and has seen a string of stars on the streets in recent weeks for high profile feature film productions.
Those include Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who is filming the action-blockbuster Skyscraper and Ryan Reynolds who is back filming the superhero sequel Deadpool 2.
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Production of the first iteration of the R-rated superhero film led to significant traffic disruptions in Vancouver, including a two-week closure of the Georgia Viaduct.
Producers said at the time that the disruptions would be worth it, a prediction that appears to have been borne out: Deadpool spent an estimated $40 million in the city, paying about 2,000 local film workers $19 million in wages.
The production boom has put pressure on staffing and resources in the industry, with IATSE – the union representing the film industry – telling Global News earlier this year it had recently hired 1,400 new technicians and artists.
Aggressive new California tax credits have lured some productions away from B.C. this year, including TV programs Legion and Lucifer.
However, with six new pilots filming in B.C. this year – the loss doesn’t seem to be affecting growth.
Back in April, a massive new state-of-the art film studio opened in Langley, offering up 150,000 square feet of production space, including eight stages.
According to Creative B.C., the motion picture business in B.C. has grown over the past 30 years from just four productions in 1978, to its current record high.