Hamilton studio closes doors

Just months after taking off, Hamilton Film Studios has landed with a thud. The $30-million, 500,000-square-foot facility closed its doors in June after failing to attract any significant business to the southern Ontario city.

The site opened in December with 75% of its stage and backlot space ready for business. Its owners planned to have the remaining room ready for an anticipated filming boom in April, getting a jump on the still-incomplete megastudios in Toronto.

HFS did not return calls for comment. But in an interview with The Hamilton Spectator, one of its three principals, Steve Pelosini, blamed the failure on the high Canadian dollar, Ontario’s poor tax credits and the anti-runaway campaign in the U.S. HFS had expected to land a U.S. series, Frankenstein from exec producer Martin Scorsese and author Dean Koontz, that instead went to Louisiana.

It also seems that Pelosini and his partners – Michael Corrado and Sei Ki – over-estimated the appeal of the site, in that the interior had too many support beams, making the space impractical for productions requiring wide, uninterrupted expanses. HFS was repurposed from three old factories. The studio was privately funded.

Hamilton has, for some time, been seeking more film and TV trade and has had good luck attracting location shoots from productions based in nearby Toronto. Olivier Assayas shot much of his latest, Clean, in the city, and Angelica Huston is currently in town directing the MOW Slow Ride.

Meanwhile, the Toronto megastudios continue to inch forward. The Toronto Economic Development Corporation announced last month it has narrowed the list of potential partners for its Portlands studio to two teams: Toronto Film Studios together with The Rose Corporation, and Pinewood-Shepperton Studios with Castlepoint Developments.

TEDCO has dropped The Comweb Group, which had partnered with O&Y Properties. Comweb is also one-half of Great Lakes Studios, Toronto’s other would-be megastudio, now under construction next door to the Portlands site. The builds were seen as rivals until both parties reached a compromise last year, retooling Great Lakes as an FX space.

TEDCO will recommend one group to its board shortly and move toward construction. A final recommendation was previously expected in April or May but did not appear.

‘The evaluation process determined that two of the four proposals were clearly superior, but to recommend a single proponent required further clarification and analysis,’ said TEDCO president and CEO Jeff Steiner in a statement.

-www.tedco.ca

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