Hollywood North

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Hollywood North is a colloquialism used to describe film production industries and/or film locations north of its namesake, Hollywood, California. The term has been applied principally to the film industry in Canada, specifically to the City of Vancouver, British Columbia and, to a much lesser extent, the City of Toronto, Ontario. The level of Canadian production has increased since the ratification of the Canada–United States Free Trade Agreement in 1988. In 2021, total spending in Vancouver reached $4.8 billion,[1] while spending in Toronto was at $2.5 billion.[2]

The make-up of production in either city differs greatly, with Ontario having a high concentration of Canadian-made productions and British Columbia being widely favoured by Hollywood studios and focusing largely on American-produced film and television. In 2017/18, British Columbia generated pre-pandemic value of $3 billion in foreign productions (63.7% of national total) compared to $910 million in Ontario (19.1% of national total).[3]

Use of the term[edit]

The term "Hollywood North" has been used to describe aspects of Vancouver film and television production since the late 1970s,[4][5][6] even appearing in the titles of books (i.e. Hollywood North: The Feature Film Industry in British Columbia)[7][8] and films (Hollywood North). The title has been claimed for both Vancouver, British Columbia,[9][10][11][12] and Toronto, Ontario.[13][14][15]


Vancouver has been used as a filmmaking location for over a century, beginning with The Cowpuncher's Glove and The Ship's Husband, both shot in 1910 by the Edison Manufacturing Company.[16] Isolated by distance from the domestic film production communities in Toronto and Montreal,[17] it became known as "Hollywood North"[18] for its role as a production centre for US feature films shot in British Columbia. The provincial government first established a film development office in 1977 to market the province to the Hollywood community.[19] In 2000, BC crossed the billion-dollar mark in production for the first time,[20] and in 2002, 75% of all Canadian foreign productions were based in British Columbia and Ontario. That same year British Columbia led the country in foreign film production receiving 44% of the Canadian total.[21] This would grow to nearly 64% of the Canadian total by 2017/18. [3]

British Columbia is currently the third largest production centre for film and television in North America, after Los Angeles and New York City, and has held this title for years[22] with over 246 motion picture projects and $1.02 billion on production spending in 2010.[23][24] Although declining domestic production in the province through 2011 and less competitive tax rates left BC ranking fourth in overall production after Ontario for a few years,[25][23][22][26] British Columbia has regained and solidified its position as the third largest production centre in North America with American studios returning in droves thanks largely to existing infrastructure and talent.[27][28]

North Shore Studios — formerly Lionsgate Studios — and Vancouver Film Studios are among the two largest special effects stages in Canada.[9][29] VFS being one of the largest production facility outside of Los Angeles;[30] Bridge Studios, in Burnaby, British Columbia, has one of the largest special effects stages in North America.[29] Mammoth Studios, a subsidiary of North Shore studios holds the largest film stages in the world,[31][32] their largest at 123,883 sq ft (11,509.1 m2).[33] As of 2020, over 1 million sq ft of studio and production space is being added.[34] Vancouver is also home to the world’s largest VFX/animation cluster with over 60 domestic and foreign-owned studios, and 17 educational institutions with motion picture production as a discipline.[35]

The BC Film Commission reported that in 2005, more than 200 productions were completed in B.C.: 63 feature films, 31 television series, 37 movies-of-the-week, 15 television pilots, 5 miniseries, 20 documentaries, 16 short films and 24 animation projects.[36] In 2006, spending on film and TV production in B.C. was $1.228 billion.[37] The Great Recession of the late 2000s hit the film industry financially on all levels. By March 2008, the British Columbia film industry dramatically recovered with film spending at $1.2 billion, with foreign-film production increasing 146 percent and domestic animation by 79 percent. In total, 86 foreign productions including 40 feature-length films, were completed in 2008.[38] The city is also host to the Vancouver International Film Festival and the Vancouver Film and Television Forum. In 2021, direct spending on film and TV production totaled more than $4.8 billion,[1] making Vancouver by far the largest production center in Canada.

Vancouver is 1,725 kilometres (1,072 mi) from Hollywood, a three-hour airplane flight[39] or a 20-hour drive.[40] It is also in the same time zone as Los Angeles. This relative proximity, diverse geography, educational capacity, and local talent, coupled with government subsidies, is a major factor in the growth of Vancouver's production industry.[41] Proximity reduces issues over operating hours, accessibility, travel time for principals, access to filmmaking infrastructure, and experience of crews.[41][42][43]


Official poster of the 2002 Toronto International Film Festival

One of the earliest Hollywood television series to shoot in Toronto was the 1957 production Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans.[44] The city has been associated with the nickname 'Hollywood North' since the late 1970s, due to its role as a production centre for both domestic and international film projects.[45][46][47] In 1979 Toronto mayor John Sewell announced that Canada had become the third largest movie production centre after Los Angeles and New York.[4]

In 2002 the year Toronto's Film and Television industry accounted for $1.16 billion towards the city's economy, former Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman proclaimed "Toronto is Hollywood North".[48] In 2003 the Toronto Ontario Film Office was established in Los Angeles to promote the benefits of filming in the city of Toronto and the province of Ontario.[49] With the TOFO Ontario is the only Canadian province to have an office in Hollywood.[50] The province of Ontario had 230 film projects with $946 million in production spending in 2010.[51]

Ontario ranks as the second largest film and television production centre in Canada, and fourth overall in North America behind California, New York, and British Columbia.[52] Although a decline in BC's domestic production and an increase of $300 million or 31% over the previous year, allowed Ontario to surpass British Columbia for the largest production centre in Canada in 2011, British Columbia has once again surpassed Ontario in recent years, as it had historically. The province recorded $1.26 billion in production activity in 2011, its largest year ever.[53] By 2017, Toronto itself grew to $2 billion.[54]

Toronto ranks fourth as an exporter of television programming in North America[55] and behind only Los Angeles, New York City, and Vancouver among North American cities in total industry production,[56] $903.5 million were spent by production companies on 209 major production film and television projects in 2010 in Toronto.[57] In 2011, the film industry contributed $1.13 billion from 244 on location film and television projects to Toronto[58] the largest figure since the year 2002, this increase in revenue over the past years was attributed to a film tax credit offered by the provincial government in 2009.[59] A 47% increase in Hollywood productions in 2011 over 2010 was mostly attributed to this tax credit among others.[58][25] In 2012 on location film and television production increased again to $1.2 billion generated.[60]

Toronto is the headquarters of Nelvana, the largest animation company in Canada and one of the largest animation/children's entertainment studios in the world. Toronto was also the headquarters of Alliance Atlantis, the largest film distribution company in Canada,[61] and the 12th largest film and TV distribution company in the world,[62] which distributes films and television across all of North America and parts of Europe.[63]

Pinewood Toronto Studios located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada is Canada's largest film and television production complex, with more than 250,000 sq ft (23,000 m2) of production space. It contains the largest purpose-built sound stage in North America,[64] capable of accommodating large blockbuster movies.[65][66][67] Some have credited the completion of Pinewood Studios along with provincial tax credits as being responsible for the late 2000s/early 2010s surge in in-province Hollywood productions. Due to its ability to handle film productions on a scale not previously possible.[25]

The Toronto Film and Television Office reported that in 2005 some 200 productions were completed in Toronto: 39 features, and 44 movies made for television, 84 television series, 11 television specials, and 22 MOW's (movies of the week).[68] The Toronto Film and Television Office issued 4,154 location filming permits for 1,258 projects totalling 7,319 days of shooting.[69] Toronto's domestic production industry benefits greatly financially from large treaty coproductions with international partners.[23]

As with Vancouver, government tax incentives at both the provincial and federal level promote Toronto as a destination for many US film productions. The city is often used as a stand in for New York City and Chicago in film.[70][71]

In addition to being a productions centre, Toronto is the home to the Toronto International Film Festival, which is considered by many in the film industry to be second only to Cannes in terms of influence[72] or in instances actually rivaling it.[73][74] It attracts numerous high-profile actors and film makers from around the globe to premiere their Films in Toronto and is generally considered the tip-off point to which the Oscar races begin.[75][76]

Toronto is home to Canada's Walk of Fame, similar in appearance to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, honouring notable Canadians.

Toronto is the headquarters to the majority of Canada's national media outlets including: CBC Television, CTV, Global Television Network, MuchMusic, YTV, and entertainment programs ETalk and Entertainment Tonight. The city is the traditional host for the Gemini Awards, honouring the Canadian television industry.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Gasher, Mike (2002). Hollywood North: The Feature Film Industry in British Columbia,[7]
  • Spanner, David (2004). Dreaming in the Rain: How Vancouver Became Hollywood North by Northwest,[77]
  • Spencer, Michael (2003). Hollywood North: Creating Canadian Film[78]
  • Trumpbour, John (2003). Hollywood North: The Feature Film Industry in British Columbia: An article from: Business History Review.[79]


  1. ^ a b "B.C. film roars back with record-shattering $4.8 billion spend in 2021 | New data". Vancouver Economic Commission. Retrieved 2022-09-23.
  2. ^ "Toronto's screen production industry sets record with more than $2.5 billion in direct spending in 2021". City of Toronto. 2022-03-25. Retrieved 2022-09-23.
  3. ^ a b "British Columbia film and TV production brought in over $3.5B last year | Venture". dailyhive.com. Retrieved 2022-11-05.
  4. ^ a b Montreal Gazette."Movie Making turns Toronto into a Mecca for star gazers". Retrieved 10 June 2011.
  5. ^ The Windsor Star."Hollywood North Growing Up...Finally". Retrieved 10 June 2011.
  6. ^ Steed, Judy (8 September 1981). "Pay Television". The Globe and Mail. p. 7.
  7. ^ a b Gasher, Mike (2002). Hollywood North: The Feature Film Industry in British Columbia. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. ISBN 0-7748-0967-1.
  8. ^ "Hollywood". Lois Siegel. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  9. ^ a b "History of Vancouver Film Studios". Vancouver Film Studios. Archived from the original on 2007-01-08. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
  10. ^ "CBC: Searched for 'Hollywood North'". CBC News. Archived from the original on 2015-10-18. Retrieved 2007-01-02.
  11. ^ "Hollywood North Vancouver". Google Inc. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  12. ^ "'Hollywood North' to grow again". CBC News. November 10, 2000. Retrieved 2007-01-02.
  13. ^ "New numbers confirm Toronto's rank as Hollywood North". City of Toronto. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  14. ^ "SARS costs for 'Hollywood North' and more". CBC News. March 9, 2004. Archived from the original on March 30, 2008. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  15. ^ "Hollywood North Toronto". Google Inc. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  16. ^ Ken MacIntyre. Reel Vancouver. Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 1996. p. 133.
  17. ^ Gasher, Mike (2002-08-01). Hollywood North: the feature film industry in British Columbia. UBC Press. pp. 67–. ISBN 978-0-7748-0968-9. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  18. ^ Mike Gasher. Hollywood North: The Feature Film Industry in British Columbia. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2002. p. 8.
  19. ^ Gasher, Mike (2002-08-01). Hollywood North: the feature film industry in British Columbia. UBC Press. pp. 69–. ISBN 978-0-7748-0968-9. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  20. ^ "Tax scare in Hollywood North". CBC News. 2000-02-08. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  21. ^ "Hollywood North: The Canadian film industry". Statistics Canada. Archived from the original on 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
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  27. ^ "2015 a record year for television and film in Vancouver". City of Vancouver. 2016-02-19.
  28. ^ "Boom-time for residents, businesses in Hollywood North". Vancouver Sun. 2016-04-08.
  29. ^ a b "BC Film Industry". Hollywood North FilmNet. Retrieved 2006-12-24.
  30. ^ "Vancouver Film Industry Overview & Links". Vancouver.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
  31. ^ Empty,AP; Empty; AP (2007-08-30). "Survey of world's biggest film facilities". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2022-10-03.
  32. ^ "North Shore Studios". theStudioTour.com. Retrieved 2022-10-03.
  33. ^ "Mammoth Studios". North Shore Studios. 2009.
  34. ^ "Georgia.org - Incentives". Archived from the original on 2011-07-13. Retrieved 2011-07-17.
  35. ^ "Vancouver ranked North America's #2 film city by MovieMaker magazine". vancouversun. Retrieved 2022-09-23.
  36. ^ "Mayor's Office Release". City of Vancouver. Retrieved 2006-12-24.[dead link]
  37. ^ "?". Archived from the original on 2012-11-06.
  38. ^ Smith, Charlie (March 9, 2009). "B.C. film production up almost 30 percent in 2008". Vancouver Free Press. Vancouver: The Georgia Straight. Archived from the original on March 16, 2009. Retrieved August 7, 2009.
  39. ^ "Flights to Los Angeles (LAX) from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (YVR) on Mexicana". Orbitz, LLC. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
  40. ^ "Vancouver, BC, Canada to Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA -". Google Search. Google Maps. 2011-06-11. Retrieved 11 June 2011.
  41. ^ a b "B.C. tries to build up Hollywood North". CBC News. November 13, 1998. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
  42. ^ Lederman, Marsha (2010-12-17). "Next Superman film to be shot in Vancouver". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  43. ^ "Foreign filmmakers flocking to B.C.: Makers of foreign television series have decided that B.C. is the place to be, regardless of where in the world it's supposed to represent". Postmedia News. Vancouver Sun. 2007-03-27. Archived from the original on 10 November 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  44. ^ "Steve Jensen's Toronto Star archives for Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans (1956-1957)". Retrieved 2007-09-18.
  45. ^ Sarasota Herald-Tribune."Toronto Now Called Hollywood of North". Retrieved 10 June 2011.
  46. ^ Youngstown Vindicator."Tax Credit Plan Helps Toronto Gain Stature As Hollywood of the North". Retrieved 10 June 2011.
  47. ^ "Toronto has Earned a New Title". The Philadelphia Inquirer. May 26, 1985. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  48. ^ "New numbers confirm Toronto's rank as Hollywood North". Access Toronto. February 6, 2001. Retrieved 2002-02-06.
  49. ^ "The Toronto Ontario Film Office in Los Angeles". OMDC. 2011-06-12.
  50. ^ "The Development of Film Policy in Canada and Japan-Pg.11" (PDF). Keio Communications. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
  51. ^ "Ontario Film and Television Production 2008-2010 sorted by format". OMDC. 2011-06-10.
  52. ^ "Progress Report 2012: Economy". Government of Ontario. 2012-08-31. Archived from the original on August 23, 2012.
  53. ^ "Ontario's film & television production records best year ever". Canada Newswire. 2012-08-31.
  54. ^ Wong, Tony (2 June 2017). "How Toronto's film and TV production has surged past $2 billion". Toronto Star. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  55. ^ "Toronto Facts". City of Toronto. Retrieved 2007-01-14.
  56. ^ "Film and Television Industry: 2011 Year in Review" (PDF). City of Toronto. 2012-09-01.
  57. ^ "Total Production Spending in the City of Toronto 2010" (PDF). Toronto Film and Television Office. 2011-06-11.
  58. ^ a b "Film and Television in Toronto" (PDF). Toronto Film and Television Office. 2012-07-01.
  59. ^ "Toronto film industry posts banner year". CTV News. 2012-03-26.
  60. ^ "Toronto film, TV industry productions in 2012 at highest levels since 2002". Cartt.ca. 2013-04-30. Archived from the original on 2013-06-28.
  61. ^ "Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. Company Profile". Yahoo.com. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
  62. ^ "The News from Home". Canadian Geographic. 2011-06-11. Archived from the original on 2007-02-03.
  63. ^ "Marquette University (AIM) Program" (PDF). Marquette university. Retrieved 2007-02-10.
  64. ^ "Pinewood Toronto Studios". Retrieved 2011-06-10.
  65. ^ "Official site: FILMPORT". Archived from the original on 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
  66. ^ "Torontoist: "Curtain Rising On New Film Megastudio."". 12 July 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
  67. ^ "Toronto Economic Development Corporation: "FILMPORT to include largest sound-stage in North America."". Retrieved 2008-02-04.[permanent dead link]
  68. ^ "TFTO Statistical Chart" (PDF). City of Toronto. Retrieved 2007-01-14.
  69. ^ "A snapshot: film, television, commercial and music video production in Toronto". City of Toronto. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
  70. ^ "Productions shot in Toronto representing New York". Toronto Film and Television Office. 2011-06-11.
  71. ^ "Chloe stars steamy Toronto as itself". CBC. 2011-06-11.
  72. ^ Tobias, Scott (May 2005). "Film Festival Guide". BBC News. Retrieved 2007-02-08.
  73. ^ Ortved, John (May 2007). "Toronto Rising". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
  74. ^ Kopune, Francine (September 2007). "Toronto's Film Festival Rival Cannes". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
  75. ^ "Toronto fires starter's gun for Oscar race". Roger Ebert.com. Retrieved 2007-02-01.
  76. ^ O'Neil, Tom (September 18, 2006). "Top Oscar rivals emerge from Toronto". LA Times. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  77. ^ Spaner, David (2004). Dreaming in the Rain: How Vancouver Became Hollywood North by Northwest. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press. ISBN 1-55152-129-6.
  78. ^ Spencer, Michael (2003). Hollywood North: Creating Canadian Film. Cantos Publishing.
  79. ^ Trumpbour, John (September 30, 2003). Hollywood North: The Feature Film Industry in British Columbia: An article from: Business History Review. Harvard Business School. ASIN B000BED20U.

External links[edit]