Sudbury

North Bay film studio wants city to become entertainment hub

A North Bay production company wants to make the northern Ontario city a movie and television production hub with a $26-million investment to build a large studio.

North Star Studios signs $150M deal over 2 years for TV and movie productions

Five men, including North Star Studios President Mitch Ouimette, at a press conference for the company.
Mitch Ouimette, third from left, celebrates with business partners and local politicians as he announces the $26-million purchase of a 100,000-square-foot industrial property he plans to transform into a movie studio. (Submitted by Mitch Ouimette)

A North Bay production company wants to make the northern Ontario city a movie and television production hub with a $26 million investment to build a large studio.

North Star Studios purchased a 100,000-square-foot property from Epiroc, a large mining supply company, and plans to convert most of the space into five sound stages for film and television productions. 

The building is on 4.8 hectares of land, which company president Mitch Ouimette said will provide some opportunities for expansion.

"Ultimately, when we're done, we should see somewhere around a half a million square feet of new stages built across the North Bay area," Ouimette said. "Now we're talking over somewhere between five, six, seven, eight years."

Ouimette said the plans could create up to 1,000 new jobs in North Bay, which would include people directly involved with movie and television productions, but also construction jobs and sectors that benefit from the industry, including hospitality. 

Why can't North Bay be the next film hub in the entertainment world?- Mitch Ouimette, president, North Star Studios

Ouimette said North Bay has the potential to compete with large movie and television production hubs such as Toronto, Atlanta and London, England.

"At some point in time, a person in Atlanta thought, 'Geez, this would make a great film hub.' And they did it," he said.

"At some point in time, somebody in London had a similar thought and they accomplished it. Now my team and I are standing here saying, 'Why can't North Bay be the next film hub in the entertainment world?'"

To that end, North Star Studios has signed a $150-million deal, over two years, with a film production company called ORWO Group.

Jake Seal, ORWO Group's executive chair, said the company has three movies it plans to film at the studio with some "global recognized names attached."

In addition to the three films, the company also plans to produce some TV shows in North Bay. 

Seal said the northeastern Ontario city has a lot to offer for media production. 

"We fell in love with the place," he said. 

"We fell in love with what it can do and the changing impact of the seasons and the wonderful, supportive nature of the people that are there. There's wonderful geography, there's very reliable snow and ice at certain times of the year, and you get a wonderful summer season."

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