6.2.2022
Hollywood’s Streaming Gold Rush Keeps Ontario Soundstages at Full Capacity
Cinespace Studio

“They aren’t talking about cutting back,” Toronto mayor John Tory says as he leads an industry trade mission around studio lots in Los Angeles.

Cinespace Film Studios in Toronto. JAMES MACDONALD/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

Never mind Netflix’s stumble. Hollywood’s streaming film and TV content spend shows no signs of slowing down.

That’s the word from Toronto studio operators, who, led by their city’s mayor John Tory, recently visited Los Angeles on a trade mission to keep major studios and streamers shooting exclusive originals on their Canadian stages.

“They aren’t talking about cutting back. They’re talking about how bullish they are and how they want to come to Toronto,” Tory told The Hollywood Reporter. He added Hollywood media players welcome more studio space opening in the Canadian city and want even more gains in local workforce training, especially for greater diversity and inclusion.

Tory added Netflix execs, in his discussions with the streaming giant, gave no indication of belt tightening, especially after having opened a Canadian office in Toronto and taken long-term leases on local studio space for originals production.

Other mission participants similarly see Los Angeles players like Disney, Warner Bros., Amazon, Paramount, Apple and AMC Networks continuing to chase Toronto stages amid Hollywood’s streaming wars to feed rising subscriber demand for original content.

David Hardy, vp, industry and government relations at William F. White International, the Toronto-based studio operator and production equipment rental giant, said he heard a few rumbles about tight budgets for bigger budget TV shoots.

“The paradox is that type of production, the 12 to 15 day shoots for an hour of television, just keeps coming, so the scope and scale of productions is high,” Hardy told THR from the Warner Bros. lot as the Canuck mission met with local production execs.

Hardy predicted the product spend for studios and streamers will likely grow, as it has in recent years, to meet a seemingly insatiable demand for exclusive content on the part of consumers.

Other Canadian execs on the Hollywood trade mission agree current content production budgets will remain intact, even if studio heads on recent post-earnings analyst calls have talked about not over-spending to lure subscribers and win the streaming wars.

Ashley Rice, recently named president and co-managing partner of Cinespace Studios, which has studio campuses in Chicago and Toronto, argues the streaming landscape has changed to where Netflix and other early and established direct-to-consumer players no longer have the field to themselves.

“It’s become so much more competitive. There are multiple [streaming] options. So now they have to reexamine their business to be as competitive as they need to be in an ever-changing marketplace,” Rice said from Los Angeles.

She added the advantage Toronto has is stability, in being able to offer Hollywood players premium soundstages, rising production talent and crews and tax credits and other incentives.

“The scale and scope of television and filmmaking is only getting greater because of the competitive landscape. So they need to go to a jurisdiction that has support systems so they concentrate on the filmmaking and the artistry,” Rice said of Toronto.

“It’s a trusted location and it’s also industry friendly at a time when the world has uncertainty and talent are interested and comfortable setting up shop in Toronto,” she added.

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