Production sector could face $2.5B hit by end of June: CMPA

Around $1.4 billion of the total would have been spent on labour, according to the CMPA, with Reynolds Mastin calling the projected figures a "wakeup call for what's at stake."

Reynolds MastinThe domestic film and TV sector will take a $2.5-billion hit if the production shutdown continues until the end of June, according to preliminary data released by the Canadian Media Producers Association (CMPA).

The projections, which include both Canadian production and foreign location service (FLS) work, indicate that $1.4 billion of that total would be spent on labour. Between 73,000 and 81,000 cast and crew will be affected by work disruptions or stoppages, noted the report prepared by the consultancy firm Nordicity, while 155,000 to 172,000 direct and spin-off workers across the Canadian economy will be affected by disruptions.

On a month-by-month basis, the CMPA said the projected impact on production spending from March 16 to 31 was $360 million, with $100 million of that impact being felt in Canadian content spending and $260 million in foreign location and service (FLS) work. In April, the estimated impact is $720 million ($217 million Cancon; $503 FLS), while the projected impact will climb to $773 million in May ($244 million Cancon; $529 million FLS) and drop to $677 million in June ($212 million Cancon; $465 million FLS).

In total, the Canadian content stands to take a $773-million hit, while the service economy stands to be impacted to the tune of $1.76 billion.

CMPA early report on COVID impact

“These numbers should serve as a wakeup call for what’s at stake, and motivate us all to work together to ensure the industry can get back on its feet as quickly as possible once this crisis ends,” said CMPA president and CEO Reynolds Mastin of the study, which represents the first concrete dollar sum placed on the nationwide impact of the production shutdown.

The newly released projections are separate from the survey put out by the COVID-19 task force. The CMPA said it will release the findings of that report, which was developed to quantify the corporate costs associated with the production shutdowns, in the coming days.

According to the CMPA’s most recent Profile report, total production spending in Canada climbed by 5.8% to $9.32 billion in 2018/19, up from $8.9 billion the prior year. The $2.5-billion hit by the pandemic could represent a loss of more than 37% of the sector’s business compared to last year.

According to Playback‘s tracking, docuseries, documentary films, feature films, TV movies, TV pilots, TV series and new media/web projects across the country have halted.

The timing of the shutdown due to coronavirus could not have been worse, bringing an abrupt end to the peak spring and summer production seasons. Elsewhere, the report said the effect of the production shutdown will “likely exceed” the projections, as a prolonged shutdown could potentially lead to projects being cancelled altogether.

Since many areas of the Canadian economy ground to a halt in mid-March, the federal government has introduced a number of relief measures, including the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB). More recently, the government revealed that it will direct $500 million in additional funding to the Department of Canadian Heritage so that it can offer more targeted support to companies in the arts and sports sectors.

“We look forward to working with the minister, his staff, and the federal funding bodies to develop a plan to direct this support toward the individuals and companies working in production who have been hit hard by the fallout from COVID-19,” added Mastin.

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