|by:||Feb 5, 2007|
Last-ditch efforts to save the Marine Terminal 28 Studio in Toronto's east end have failed, and the studio is closing in what its operator, Cinespace Film Studios, says is "a tragic precedent."
Cinespace says it was given only two months to clear out of the landmark studio, following word in mid-December from the landlord, the Toronto Economic Development Corporation.
The studio, a converted marine terminal, is being demolished to make way for office or retail space as part of Toronto's ambitious Waterfront Revitalization Project. It will close its doors on Feb. 21.
More than 500 movies, TV productions, commercials and new media projects have been lensed at Marine Terminal 28 in its 12 years of operation, among them X-Men, Chicago, Don't Say a Word, and, most recently, Killshot with Diane Lane and Mickey Rourke.
Cinespace presented TEDCO an online petition with 5,000 signatures and more than 30 letters of support from U.S. and Canadian producers and industry employees appealing for an additional 18 months, to no avail.
The studio complained that the turnaround time was too tight and the eviction leaves its clients out in the cold.
"The removal of 140,000 square feet of film production space, with no replacement space available for at least 12 months, is another blow to Toronto's film industry," said a Cinespace release. The company operates a number of other studios around Toronto, including its facilities on Booth Avenue and in nearby Kleinburg.
Cinespace alleges that TEDCO is shutting down the studio in order to "eliminate competition prior to completion of the Portlands studio," referring to Filmport, a nearby megastudio currently under construction by rival Toronto Film Studios. "Cinespace considers this entire saga to be a glaring example of a rogue city agency, in blatant contempt of its own economic development mandate, systematically dismantling the competitive and vital infrastructure of Toronto's $1-billion film industry."
Not so, says TEDCO president and CEO Jeff Steiner, insisting, "TEDCO gave them more than a year's written notice that they would have to depart."
"There's been a plan for this area that's been discussed for over three years. It's no surprise to anyone that this area is being revitalized and that it was to occur in 2007," he says.
Steiner called allegations of a conflict of interest "absolute nonsense." He noted that Cinespace hasn't had a lease since 2005, that it was specifically invited to bid for the Portlands project, and that TEDCO offered the studio land in Etobicoke to build another facility which it declined.