A dozen years ago, Disney built two animation studios in Canada -- one in Vancouver and one in Toronto. They turned out hand-drawn animation for Disney's home video division, but they were short-lived production units, lasting only a few years before being shuttered.
Now, however, Canada is making moves to lure more animation production north of the 49th parallel.
... [T]ax credits offered by [Canadian] provinces reveals the same game of incremental one-upmanship that has become standard in the U.S. And, while that's a mixed blessing north of the border, it might herald even sweeter giveaways for Hollywood studios seeking to film here.
Quebec got the ball rolling in mid-June. That's when the province extended its tax credit, allowing producers to get a 25% break not only on labor costs (as had been the case previously) but also on all production expenses ....
Provincial governments are pouring money into new animation and video game studios as they look to increase high-tech digital jobs. British Columbia got the ball rolling when Disney's Pixar announced it would open a new studio in Vancouver in the fall. Pixar's move north was accompanied by lucrative tax credits and other financial incentives from the B.C. government for digital animation and R&D.
Over in Ontario, Toronto then acquired a 20% stake in the city's Filmport Studios complex to make way for Britain's Pinewood Studios Group to take control of the mega-studio, newly renamed Pinewood Toronto Studios. The Ontario government subsequently agreed to invest $20.5 million in the Starz Animation Toronto 3D cartoon studio during the next five years, to create and retain high-tech jobs locally. And Ontario then convinced French interactive game maker Ubisoft to open its fourth Canadian development studio in Toronto by pitching in $226 million over 10 years to create 800 jobs ...
To date, Canadian animation studios have not been major players in the global 'toon marketplace. A number of projects have been turned out in Toronto and elsewhere; none have been box-office chart busters.
At this juncture, Canada offers job shops to sub-contract animation, but it hasn't built any studios that turn out successful originals. And with the Canadian dollar and wage scales running at near-parity with their American counterparts, Canada will never be the low-cost provider for sub-contracted animation.
That honor will continue to be shared by China and India.
(Ontario premiere Dalton McGuinty explains Ontario's game plan here.)