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Hollywood North

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Saturday, February 02, 2002

All the buzz is about Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the third installment in the movie franchise that turned Arnold Schwarzenegger into a star, due to start filming here this spring or early summer. With a $170-million US production budget, T3 promises to be the biggest game in town -- but it isn't the only one.

There are 10 feature films shooting or preparing to shoot in Vancouver, more the double the number of features on deck this time last year, Lindsay Allen, acting head of the B.C. Film Commission, said Friday. Several television series have also been confirmed.

"It's going to be a busy summer," Allen said in an interview. "I think we're going to do very well."

While waiting for T3, Vancouver has been hosting Santa Clause 2, a Disney production starring Tim Allen; I Spy, starring Eddie Murphy and Owen Wilson and directed by Betty Thomas; and A Guy Thing, an MGM production starring Julia Stiles, the latter two completing local filming in a few weeks.

Ecks and Sever, a Warner Bros. production starring Lucy Liu and Antonio Bandaras, began production in Vancouver Dec. 1 while Castle Rock's Dreamcatcher, starring Morgan Freeman, has been shooting -- mainly in Prince George -- since Dec. 18. Paramount's The Core, with Hillary Swank, started production Dec. 10 and will be in Vancouver until the end of March.

Coming up are X-Men 2, which Fox begins shooting in May; Willard, New Line's remake of the rat classic, which is scheduled to start filming Feb. 11; and Final Destination 2, set to begin shooting Feb. 18.

A television movie reuniting the cast of L.A. Law will shoot in Vancouver mid-February. And a new TV series, Dead Zone, based on the Stephen King novel, is slated to begin production in Vancouver later this year.

This time of year is a normal hiatus for series production, Allen said. But last year, production companies were stockpiling series furiously in anticipation of industry-wide strikes.

The busy feature film production schedule suggests producers are not unduly concerned about the demise of the federal tax shelter program as of Dec. 31, 2001. The program allowed producers to raise money from investors, who were able to deduct a portion of their investment from taxable income. The shelters enabled producers to save three to six per cent of total production costs.

However, tax credit programs, which rebate a percentage of a production's labour costs, remain in place. Labour costs represent about half of the typical production budget.

The B.C. provides a tax credit representing 11 per cent labour costs; the federal government matches it. A qualifying Canadian production may be eligible for a credit of 25 per cent from B.C. and 20 per cent from Ottawa. There's a further 12.5 per cent regional credit for productions outside of Vancouver and a training credit of three per cent for employing interns.

B.C. attracted $1.2 billion worth of film and television production in 2000, the latest year for which figures are available.
 

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