Ontario’s booming entertainment sector will expand once again. This time, in Steeltown.
A giant film studio comprising six studio soundstages over 150,000 square feet is planned for Hamilton, Ontario, an hour from the evolving Toronto film and TV production sector.
In an exclusive report from THR, Aeon Studio Group, a Hamilton developer and operator of film and television studios, is in the process of developing a 200,000-square-foot film and TV production hub for the city. This would include one 40,000-square-foot stage, another at 30,000 square feet and four more at 20,000 square feet each. Additionally, their will be 50,000 square feet for production offices, crafts, set building and other ancillary services for VFX-laden Hollywood blockbusters and TV series.
The initial six soundstages, which is set to be a combination of purpose-built studio space and warehouse retrofits, are scheduled to open in summer 2020.
The studio also intends to include facilities for post-production, animation, visual effects and games development, with anchor tenants still to finalize deals.
In a statement, ASG partner Mike Bruce had this to say:
“Hamilton is the perfect place for a production hub in the west-end greater Toronto and Hamilton area because of its proximity to diverse filming locations, thriving arts and culture workforce, limited traffic congestion, supply of industrial buildings ripe for conversion into lower cost studio space, and because productions that film there qualify for additional provincial tax credits.”
The plans for the proposed Hamilton Studio District development will be detailed in Hamilton on Tuesday at a press conference to be attended by city mayor Fred Eisenberger, local city councillor Jason Farr, and ASG partners Jeff Anders, Mike Bruce, Robbie David and Mark Sakomoto.
The move to build a studio in Hamilton is not surprising. The province of Ontario offers generous filming incentives to productions. These include an all-spend tax credit of 21.5 percent that can be added with a Canadian film tax credit and the province’s additional animation and visual effects credit. Furthermore, local and foreign producers that opt to shoot movies and TV series in Hamilton can apply for an additional 10 percent rebate on all labor expenditures.
The news of a studio in Hamilton comes at a time when the Canadian entertainment market is growing at an alarming rate. Earlier this year, Netflix announced that will open its latest global production hub in Toronto, taking long-term leases on eight soundstages at separate studios, Pinewood Toronto Studios and Cinespace Films Studios. CBS Television Studios (which currently shoots a number of series in T.O) is expanding in Canada as well. It will open a 260,000-square-foot studio with six soundstages in Toronto before the end of the year.
Hamilton usually doubles as prominent U.S cities like New York City, Boston and Chicago, provided the backdrop to recent films and TV series like ABC’s Designated Survivor, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Netflix’s Umbrella Academy, Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar winner The Shape of Water and It: Chapter Two (which was also shot in Toronto and Port Hope).