Just in time for the Oscars, Canada's biggest film and television studio has announced plans for a major expansion in Toronto's Port Lands hoping to attract more big-budget blockbusters to the city.
Pinewood Studios announced Thursday that it plans to build a new 135,000 square-foot facility complete with carpentry workshops, production offices and retail space. The announcement by the studio -- where the 2016 Oscar-nominated film Room was shot -- comes as Toronto Mayor John Tory wraps up a business trip to Los Angeles meant to attract movie productions to the city.
"I'm proud we're leading the way in adding more purpose-built facilities to our city's thriving film and television industry," chairman Paul Bronfman said in a release.
The company already has a 300,000 square foot site on Commissioners Street, but is hoping to eventually double in size. The "purpose built" studio has attracted major productions, such as Robocop, Poltergeist, Pixels and, most recently, the highly-anticipated superhero flick Suicide Squad.
The studio isn't the only site in Toronto where filming takes place. Many productions have been shot in retrofitted warehouses or office buildings. Riverdale's Real Jerk restaurant became the set of the rapper Drake and singer Rihanna's latest music video for the collaboration Work.
But big-budget Hollywood films often have specific electricity and space requirements, something Pinewood prides itself on.
"The better facilities we can provide to producers around the world, the better we will attract that kind of production," said William Bryck, president Build Toronto, a public agency created to generate value from the city's real estate assets.
The City of Toronto estimates the film industry produces about $1.2 billion of economic activity annually. Pinewood says about 35 percent of that is linked to its studio.
"It is incredibly busy right now," Bryck said. "The weakening Canadian dollar has been an incentive for producers to come, but they also come because of our vast and deep labour pool of set designers, costume, electricians [and] technicians."
Pinewood has already submitted applications to begin construction and hopes productions will be underway at the new site in 2018.
"The expansion at Pinewood Toronto will create well-paid jobs, generate a robust economic spill-over, and increase the city's revenue. Projects like this one support the growth of our film and television sector and add to our clout as a North American industry leader," the city's chair of economic development Coun. Michael Thompson said in a release.