John Tory to lead T.O. industry delegation to L.A.

The mayor and 23 Ontario companies will head south in an effort to bring more production to Toronto as the City continues to address capacity issues.

Toronto Mayor John Tory is heading to L.A. next week to drum up business for the city’s film and TV industry.

The annual trip, announced at a press conference held April 12 at William F. White’s headquarters in Etobicoke, will see a delegation of 23 Ontario-based companies and organizations meeting with U.S. studios including Disney, Warner, HBO, NBC Universal and Fox, as well as Netflix, Amazon and Apple.

“Whether the final product will be on the big screen, the small screen or streamed online, we want that product to be a made-in-Toronto production. This mission will provide an opportunity for us to remind and inform decision makers in Los Angeles of the tremendous production talent we have in Toronto,” said Tory.

The trip comes as the city’s studios remain at near-capacity, though a number of expansion announcements from local studio operators have suggested that some relief may be on the horizon.

Two weeks ago, Bell Media announced it was acquiring a majority stake in Pinewood Toronto Studios, with plans to add an additional 170,000 square-feet of sound stages and support space.

As well, Cinespace revealed it has inked a multi-year deal with PortsToronto to develop a 165,000-square foot production facility in the Port Lands to replace its 120,000-square foot Eastern Avenue site, which ceased operations in February. The new site is expected to be operational before year’s end. Cinespace is also adding two 20,000-square-foot studios to its Etobicoke site, with both expected to open this summer.

A statement issued Thursday (April 12) by the City said it expects to identify an operator for the currently unused Showline Studios space “very shortly.” The City did not provide further details to Playback Daily as of press time. In December, Toronto’s City Council announced it had approved a plan to purchase Showline Studios from Canada Post to ensure the facilities were maintained as studio space.

In addition, the City revealed Thursday that it has identified two sites (Basin Street and McCleary District) that it will “tender with the specific intent of building more studio space.” No further details or timelines were given.

This is Tory’s first film- and TV-focused trade mission to L.A. since January 2017. Since then, Toronto City Council unanimously adopted the Spotlight on Toronto: A Strategic Action Plan for the Film, Television and Digital Media Industry plan, which focuses on expanding the City’s studio space, adopting policies that encourage the growth of the local sector, enhancing customer service and engagement efforts with local neighbourhoods and building the city’s brand as a leading screen-based destination.

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