BIG CITIES (continued)
This is a big year for the home of the Toronto International Film Festival, which is making a major play for big-budget productions and streaming services’ spending. The Ontario Film Commission, which has an office in Los Angeles, couldn’t be more overt about wanting Hollywood productions scrambling for sound stages to come north.
Toronto’s biggest answer to a lack of stages is the First Studio City complex expected to open this year. Minutes from downtown Toronto, the $100 million Markham production facility will dwarf the existing Pinewood Toronto Studios, home of 2019 hits including It: Chapter 2 and Shazam!
The new Markland Movieland will join CBS Stages Canada, a 260,000-square foot facility that opened in September and includes six soundstages, as well as production offices, support facilities and auxiliary services. It is home to Star Trek: Discovery and the Charmed and Nancy Drew reboots, among other productions.
Tax credits include the Ontario Film & Television Credit of 35% for Ontario-based Canadian corporations, as well as the 21.5 percent Ontario Production Services Tax Credit for foreign companies.
Canada’s biggest city boasts cosmopolitanism and diversity, as well as a strong economy. The Economist Intelligence Unit, part of the same British media empire that publishes The Economist, ranked Toronto in 2019 as the seventh most-livable city in the world—ahead of any U.S. city and just behind Vancouver.
Speaking of the Economist Intelligence Unit: It ranked Atlanta the second-most livable U.S. city, behind Honolulu, and the 33rd-most-livable city in the world.
Moviegoers are probably used to seeing the Georgia peach logo at the end of closing credits. A 10% tax incentive to promote the state as part of a movie’s marketing plan is one of the reasons it has become so prolific. An additional 20% tax credit is a large reason why more features filmed in Georgia than any other state last year.
2019 was the year of the big sequel in Atlanta. Suicide Squad 2, Coming 2 America, Zombieland: Doubletap, Jumanji: The Next Level, and Conjuring 3 rolled into town last year. They were in good company, with some of the biggest television shows, like Walking Dead, Atlanta and Stranger Things also calling Atlanta home. And then there’s a little movie called Black Widow that filmed in the summer and fall.
To further cement itself as the Hollywood of the South, Georgia’s tourism board has aggressively promoted its film industry to travelers. Explore Georgia features a plethora of information for film fans, including film tours, itineraries and contests. Get used to the sight of that peach.
Vancouver is a city of superlatives. The top Canadian city on our list this year adopted an action plan to be the greenest city by 2020, and it was ranked the third-best in the world for quality of living by Mercer, one of the world’s largest human resources consulting firms. And the Economist Intelligence Unit rated it in 2019 as the sixth most-livable city in the world.
Moviemakers have appreciated Vancouver’s greatness for years. Aside from its natural, diverse beauty, with an urban center flanked by ocean on one side and mountains on the other, it’s appealing for many other reasons. “With close proximity to Los Angeles, longstanding, stable and competitive tax incentives and government support, and a community that nurtures creativity, Vancouver is the ideal locale for any Film or TV production,” according to the Vancouver Economic Commission.
Another superlative? Vancouver has the world’s largest cluster of domestic and foreign-owned studios, according to the Economic Commission. Recent productions animated in Vancouver include the Academy Award-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The BFG, Bob’s Burgers, and Angry Birds. The city continues to nurture the talent pool with numerous education opportunities. And Vancouver is home to three out of the top 10 best visual effects schools, as ranked by The Hollywood Reporter.
The City of Big Shoulders lived up to its nickname in 2019, pushing up four spots in our rankings list and helping Illinois deliver its highest moviemaking revenue ever. In 2019 it tracked $519 million dollars spent and more than 12,700 jobs.
The city that spawned three namesake NBC shows also inspired moviemakers in a big way. Friend Request, Holiday Heist, Say My Name, and Swing Shift are a few of the films produced in the city in 2019.
While Chicago has some undeniable assets that attract moviemakers, including an extensive infrastructure, talent from Steppenwolf and Second City, and a 30% tax incentive, it also has a special provision that sets it apart.
“Illinois is currently the only state with a codified provision specifically identifying diversity hiring as part of the incentive program. The Illinois film tax credit statute contains a diversity plan and reporting requirement—which means that no production will receive the tax credit without proof of best faith efforts to hire women and minorities as part of the technical crew and office staff,” said Peter Hawley, director of the Film Office, Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity. “Overall crew and production office staff diversity was at 28% in 2019 year-to-date, up from 14% when the program was established.”