Montreal bounces back

MONTREAL — The service sector is booming in Quebec this year, with production spending already at $210 million, nearly double what it was for the entire year in 2009, says the province’s film commissioner Hans Fraikin.

”I feel great,’ Fraikin told Playback Daily. ‘Our business development strategy has really paid off. We had to fix a number of internal problems and start fostering relationships with Hollywood — and now we are reaping the benefits.’

Last year foreign producers spent $130 million in Montreal; in 2008 a paltry $85 million.

In addition to solving a protracted territorial battle between technicians unions here, last June Quebec introduced a generous tax credit which covers 25% of the overall budget of foreign films. Meanwhile, many U.S. states are considering cutting their film tax credits because of the economic downturn.

The tax credit likely attracted Dawn of War, a $115 million production starring Henry Cavill (The Tudors). This epic, directed by Tarsem Singh, is set in ancient Greece and just started shooting. Montreal is also the location for the $35 million sci-fi thriller Source Code , directed by Duncan Jones (Moon), and of the $50 million sci-fi thriller Upside Down, which stars Kirsten Dunst and Jim Sturgess.

Upside Down will be released by Summit Entertainment in the U.S., and was one of the fastest-selling flicks at the American Film Market in November, with distributors in 15 countries snapping it up. It will be released by Seville Pictures in Canada.

There are also unconfirmed reports that Marvel/Paramount’s The First Avenger: Captain America might come to town.

The $25 million Spike TV series Blue Mountain State, which follows the lives of a group of freshman playing on a college football team, is also headed back to Montreal this summer to shoot its second season.