B.C. studios hot, Toronto mild, Montreal picking up

Soundstages in B.C. unsurprisingly report the most business this summer shooting season, buoyed by a rejuventation in dramatic programming, while a pair of large features highlight a sub-par summer in Toronto, and volume in Montreal is finally picking up with film work from both U.S. majors and indie producers.

Soundstages in B.C. unsurprisingly report the most business this summer shooting season, buoyed by a rejuventation in dramatic programming, while a pair of large features highlight a sub-par summer in Toronto, and volume in Montreal is finally picking up with film work from both U.S. majors and indie producers.

B.C.: The biggest West Coast studio deal in recent times saw real estate firm Bosa Development purchase North Vancouver’s Lionsgate Studios – which has reverted to its original North Shore Studios banner – joining it with Bosa’s Mammoth Studios in Burnaby, and both buildings are humming.

‘There’s a lot more television being made this year [in B.C.]… due to a downswing in reality TV,’ says Paul Clausen, director of operations at North Shore.

The USA Network series Psych is shooting its first season at North Shore, while season three of Sci-Fi Channel’s The 4400 just wrapped, and New Line’s Blade: The Series, already airing, finishes up at the end of the month. The new ABC fall drama Men in Trees, starring Anne Heche, is also in-house.

Also on North Shore’s docket are a pair of Paramount star vehicles: the US$16-million family drama Things We Lost in the Fire with Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro, and the spy flick Shooter, starring Mark Wahlberg and Danny Glover.

After the B.C.-shot Marvel superhero adap Fantastic Four went on to gross more than $150 million in North America, it’s no surprise that Fox has set up shop for its sequel at Mammoth and Vancouver Film Studios.

Meanwhile, Pete Mitchell, SVP of marketing at VFS, confirms ‘a little more series work is in town than in the past.’ VFS has Sci-Fi Channel’s new series Eureka and the third season of hit Battlestar Galactica on the go, while, on the feature side, Revolution Studios’ Ice Cube comedy Are We Done Yet? – a sequel to 2005′s Are We There Yet? – as well as Seed, Brightlight Pictures’ latest Uwe Boll opus, and Fantastic Films’ feature Postal have VFS booked through November.

Regina: Venerable CTV laugher Corner Gas and inquiries on the commercial front have the Canada Saskatchewan Production Studios near bursting.

Corner Gas’ season-four shoot is occupying three of CSPS’ four stages this summer, while Minds Eye Entertainment’s mini The Englishman’s Boy, adapted from a Governor General-awarded novel by local writer Guy Vanderhaeghe, is also booked for a shoot at the studio later this month. A reshoot of Mandate Pictures’ feature The Messenger recently wrapped.

Toronto: Even with two major film shoots overlapping in Toronto this summer, studios here report a lower volume of features overall. Toronto still lags far behind Vancouver, with the FilmPort megastudio, which will compete for Hollywood’s biggest projects, not yet underway. But studios are filling in gaps with a stronger commercial and TV presence.

Cinespace Film Studios has the US$75-million New Regency/Fox sci-fi feature Jumper, which jumped from Montreal and is also taking up space at Toronto Film Studios. Also occupying Cinespace office and studio space are the Sidney Kimmel Entertainment features Charlie Bartlett and Talk to Me. ‘With a multi-picture commitment, [Kimmel] will be bringing more to Toronto,’ notes Cinespace VP Jim Mirkopoulos.

Ridley Scott’s CIA-based The Company, a mini for Sony, and the Disney Channel MOW Jump, directed by Paul Hoen, are also shooting at Cinespace.

Meanwhile, the highly anticipated New Line musical adap Hairspray, starring Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer and John Travolta – as a housewife – is moving in over at Showline Harbourside Studios. While features may have fallen off somewhat, Showline remains steady with CTV’s Canadian Idol and the CBC kids series The Doodlebops. Substantial commercial work is also filling some of the long-form schedule gaps.

‘It’s been a quieter summer than normal,’ concedes TFS head Ken Ferguson, who is also the man behind FilmPort. He is at a loss as to why more U.S. majors have not come his way this summer. ‘If other studios think we’re full, they may have stayed away,’ he adds.

Features on the go at TFS include a reshoot of Breach (Kimmel/Universal) and the supernatural sequel Stir of Echoes: The Dead Speak, starring Rob Lowe, for Lionsgate Films. Lifetime’s new cop series Angela’s Eyes with Abigail Spencer has extended its shoot at TFS.

Montreal: Some big international features are complementing Quebec’s usual wealth of domestic projects, and as a result Montreal is experiencing an overall pickup after a slow stretch.

At Mel’s Cité du Cinéma, the Bob Dylan-biopic I’m Not There (Thin Man) is shooting, bringing to town star talent including Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett.

Also on the go is the Paramount feature adaptation of the kids book series The Spiderwick Chronicles, directed by Mark Waters, on a reported budget of $110 million, and the New Line/Walden Media feature Journey 3D, starring Brendan Fraser.

Television work includes Groupe TVA’s Nos étés III with Isabelle Blais, and, otherwise, around 40 French-language projects, running the gamut from the feature Ma Tante Aline to doc Opération Tsunami, are lining up to shoot around town

www.vancouverfilmstudios.com

www.saskstudios.com

www.cinespace.com

www.showlinestudios.com

www.torontofilmstudios.com

www.citeducinema.com