Vancouver smashes record for film activity in 2015

Deadpool set box-office records in its opening weekend and helped Vancouver to its own record-breaking year.

Plus, B.C. government unveils new auction system for awarding wine sales licence

Hit film
Last weekend, the Vancouver-shot Hollywood feature Deadpool opened in theatres like a superhero, demolishing box office records for R-rated films. It seemed to lend its bionic strength to the city, which released a new report on Friday boasting its own new figures: film activity increased 40 per cent in 2015 over the previous year.
Vancouver hosted 353 productions in 2015, up from 253 the previous year. That total included 26 feature films. This activity earned Vancouver $710,000 in revenue for film and street-use permits alone. Film was a significant employer as well; payroll data based on city postal codes show that more than $143 million was paid in wages to Vancouver residents in 2015.
As a superhuman example, Deadpool spent over $40 million in Metro Vancouver during 58 days of filming. The production hired over 2,000 local cast and crew and spent more than $19 million in wages.
A record 158 TV commercials were also filmed in Vancouver, ranging from simple location shoots to the complex set design of the Jeep Cherokee “river in the city” commercial filmed last March. The television industry also filmed more than 309 episodes in Vancouver, including Warner Bros.’ Arrow, The Flash, Supernatural and Lucifer. Warner Bros. spent over 70 million dollars directly on labour, suppliers and locations.
The contributions of the film industry have not gone unnoticed. Mayor Gregor Robertson, who is specifically thanked in the credits at the end of Deadpool, returned the pat on the back in a statement along with the report. “As one of Vancouver’s high-growth industries, film is a big contributor to our nation-leading economic growth,” he said. “Vancouver is home to world-leading talent in the film industry and the city is committed to supporting all levels and aspects of production.”
The province has taken notice as well. This week’s 2016 provincial budget contained a congratulatory shout-out to B.C. film, along with a cautionary note about the industry’s beloved tax credit structure. Because foreign production activity has increased more than 50 per cent from about $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion in 2014-15, the cost of the film tax credits is increasing. The tax credits, which are based on B.C. labour costs, have contributed to the province’s attractiveness to foreign productions but are estimated to cost the province $493 million in 2015-16. “With input from the film industry,” reads the budget, “the government will limit the growth of film tax credits across 2016-17 through 2018-19, but the cost of the credits will still be the highest amount ever budgeted.”

Wine competition
And it’s sold! To the grocer with the quick fingers.

Using an online auction process that looks a lot like EBay, owners of B.C. grocery stores will soon be bidding on a licence that will allow them to sell B.C. wine, cider and sake. On Friday, the Ministry of Small Business announced that BC Auction will conduct six competitions and the winner of each will be awarded a licence. The first round of auctions will be held in late April, and the ministry intends to follow these up with another series of auctions, allowing up to 18 licences.

Grocers will have to meet specified regulatory criteria and make a deposit of $25,000. The minimum bid is $125,000, and the entire auction will be conducted over a 24-hour period. Participants can enter a maximum bid and the system will automatically outbid others at a pre-set increment up until that amount is reached. The system will inform the bidder when they are outbid and they have the opportunity to increase their maximum bid. All unsuccessful bidders will be refunded the $25,000 deposit.

Ontario is going even further in loosening its rules around alcohol sales. Premier Kathleen Wynne announced this week that wine and cider will join beer on some supermarket shelves beginning this fall. The roll-out will be slow; approximately 60 grocery stores are now authorized to sell beer, and over the coming years up to 450 will receive licences. Up to 300 will also be allowed to sell wine.