Vancouver screen industry generates record-breaking spend in 2021

The latest figures surpass the previous record of $4.1bn set in 2019

By Priyanca Rajput 13 Sep 2022

Vancouver screen industry generates record-breaking spend in 2021
President, Motion Picture Association – Canada, Wendy Noss. Credit: MPA CA

Annual spend on local film, television, visual effects (VFX) and animation industries generated a record-breaking $4.8bn in direct spending for Vancouver in 2021.

According to the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC)'s annual film spend research, it is $1.4bn more (40% year-over-year increase) than the $3.4bn spent in 2020 — when the industry was forced to halt productions owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It also surpasses the previous record of $4.1bn set in 2019.

“We had expected the data to show a strong recovery given what we saw on the ground last year, but these numbers exceed all our expectations,” said Geoff Teoli, acting Vancouver film commissioner. “Pent-up demand from pandemic-related pauses may have been what drove spending this year, and while we expect it to settle back a bit going forward, it proves that Vancouver is capable of supporting a $5 billion industry sooner than we think.”

Over the last decade, the industry has collectively invested $30.1bn into the provincial economy — $17bn of which has been paid directly as wages to British Columbians. During the pandemic, the film industry provided income for thousands of BC locals, paying $4.6bn in wages since the onset of 2020. 

“While the big numbers are impressive, what really excites me is thinking about how much of that is the payroll to Vancouver residents and communities, and how almost all the rest is going into the cash registers of local shops and businesses that support the industry,” added Teoli. “There are thousands of industry workers in Vancouver alone and tens of thousands in the region.”

According to Creative BC, the sector employs a total of 65,000 gig and freelance workers, or the equivalent of around 35,000 full-time and equivalent jobs in BC, the vast majority of which are based in Metro Vancouver.

Prem Gill, CEO of Creative BC said: “The motion picture industry is a unique facet of B.C.’s overall economy with a skilled workforce, entrepreneurial businesses, and original storytellers. There is more than economic resilience being generated by this ecosystem. Seeing a strong return also reflects capacity for greater inclusion and access, and for continued reinvestment into green practices.”

Wendy Noss, president of Motion Picture Association – Canada (MPA-Canada), added: “The data released today reinforces the important role that the film and television industry plays for BC’s economy. When global studios film in B.C., their productions not only make a big impact on-screen; they also support thousands of cast and crew, local businesses, and communities behind the scenes.”

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