No fairy tale – Once Upon A Time TV show brings $276m to B.C.: study

TV and film productions generate big money for B.C. economy

ABC's Once Upon a Time films in B.C. | Photo: submitted

No, the numbers below aren’t a fantasy.

After spending five seasons filming in B.C., ABC TV series Once Upon A Time has generated 5,500 local jobs and $276 million in direct spending in the province.

That’s according to a report released Friday (February 19) from the Motion Picture Association-Canada to coincide with the March airing of the fairy tale drama’s 100th episode.

Accounting firm MNP used the American show’s third-season budget numbers as a baseline for the economic impact study.

Numbers crunched reveal Once Upon a Time spent $34 million on local crew and labour during the season that filmed from 2013-14, while $21.2 million was spent on local goods and services.

While the show is primarily shot in Richmond’s historic Steveston village, the report found the production engaged 880 vendors from more than 60 communities across B.C.

“We love working in British Columbia, with an incredible cast and crew, and with the entire community of Steveston who have embraced the Once Upon a Time production,” Gary French, ABC Studios’ senior vice-president of production, said in a statement.

“With diverse locations, a competitive and reliable incentive program and an unbelievable wealth of local talent, B.C is the ideal home for Storybrooke.”

Those incentives French refers to might be too popular for the B.C. government.

The province revealed Tuesday (February 16) its film tax credits have spiked to $493 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year as the value of the Canadian dollar plummeted.

During the 2010-11 to the 2013-14 fiscal years, the tax credits averaged about $255 million annually.

Victoria is now putting its tax credit program under review.

Alex Godfrey, president of Vancouver’s Ironwood Studios, told Business In Vancouver earlier this week limiting tax credits would be tough on the sector.

“Every force would impact business — the dollar, the tax credits,” he said.  “If you take away one of those things it’s obviously going to affect the business that is coming into B.C.”

Meanwhile, the City of Vancouver released new figures Friday showcasing 2015 as a banner year for the film and TV sector with 353 productions filming in the city.

That’s up 50% from 2014, when 235 productions came to Vancouver proper.

The big jump in productions helped bring in revenue of $710,000 for film and street-use permits.

Meanwhile, city hall determined $143 million in wages were paid to film and TV production workers living in Vancouver last year. Those figures are based on payroll data from city postal codes.

Among the productions to hit Vancouver in 2015 were superhero TV series The Flash and superhero film Deadpool.

Another economic impact report released last week from the Motion Picture Association-Canada showed Deadpool brought $40 million in spending to the province.

torton@biv.com

@reporton