B.C.’s Film, TV, VFX & Animation Industry set new records in 2019, spending more than $4 billion

B.C.’s Film, TV, VFX & Animation Industry set new records in 2019, spending more than $4 billion

New research by the Vancouver Economic Commission shows that this crucial economic pillar has paid more than $12.5 billion in wages to British Columbians since 2012

Vancouver, B.C. – According to the Vancouver Economic Commission’s (VEC) annual film industry research, the B.C. film, television, visual effects and animation industry broke new records in 2019, spending more than $4.1 billion. Of this, more than $3.1 billion was spent on physical production alone, with the remainder accounted for by the sheer volume of post-production and animation activity largely centered in Vancouver.

“B.C.’s 21st century film and television industry is a multi-billion dollar driver of the provincial economy, with Vancouver as a vital production hub in the North American mix,” says MPPIA Board Chair Peter Leitch.

As a longstanding and crucial pillar of the provincial economy, the sector generates a diversity of jobs across industry verticals, including hospitality, tourism, material suppliers, transportation and construction.

The industry’s job-creating power has grown steadily over the years: spending in B.C. has more than tripled over the last eight years, increasing from $1.6 billion in 2012 to $4.1 billion in 2019. Since 2012, the industry has invested $22.7 billion into the provincial economy. Of this, $12.5 billion was spent as wages paid to British Columbians. A recent report by Creative BC estimates the industry to support more the 70,000 jobs across the province. According to a previous study by Nordicity and VEC, the region of Metro Vancouver anchors the provincial industry, and generally accounts for more than three-quarters of its annual activity, jobs and spend.

“Competitive production tax credits, experienced talent, supportive permitting, state-of-the-art infrastructure, and an integrated ecosystem have worked in tandem for decades to build Vancouver’s global reputation for success,” says David Shepheard, Director, Creative Industry and Vancouver Film Commissioner. “In the minds of studios and producers, filming in Vancouver comes with the knowledge that the region’s experienced talent can deliver world-class productions.”

B.C. film industry’s resilience underpins its recovery

Metro Vancouver is the third-largest film hub in North America, behind New York and L.A., and remains the largest production hub in Canada by a significant margin. Thanks to B.C.’s low COVID-19 case count, the agility of its veteran crews, and the cooperation between provincial health authorities and industry players, the local film and TV industry has been able to weather the effects of the novel coronavirus pandemic better than many other global film hubs.

“The film industry is one of the big B.C. industries that has successfully restarted, re-employing tens of thousands of people,” says Shepheard.

When the Province of British Columbia first declared a public health emergency around the pandemic, there were forty-one productions in progress, most of which were forced to halt work altogether. Half a year later, the industry has re-mobilized and is busier than ever, with over 60 projects now in some stage of production. Visual effects and animation companies were able to transition thousands of employees to remote working models early on. The fact that cast, crew and other creative talent have by and large been able to continue working in this industry has been essential to B.C.’s wider economy during the pandemic.

“As a collaborative, agile and adaptable business sector, we are in the fortunate position to help restore the productivity and optimism that characterizes our region, as we navigate recovery from an extraordinary global crisis together,” adds Leitch.

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Fact Sheet

B.C. Total Spend of the Film, TV, VFX and Animation Industry 2012–2019. Source: Vancouver Economic Commission analysis of WorkSafeBC data

Numbers at a Glance

  • Total direct spend in 2019 was $4,114,213,790, or $4.1 billion
  • Of this direct spend in 2019, physical production alone accounted for $3,130,952,284, or $3.1 billion
  • Since 2012, the film industry has invested $22,667,672,748, or $22.7 billion, in the provincial economy
  • Of this, $12,458,240,476 or $12.5 billion has been paid to British Columbians as salaries and wages
  • According to Creative BC, the sector employs more than 70,000 workers in British Columbia. A Labour Market Study by industry and Creative BC focused on below-the-line workers identified 43,800 individuals working in this segment of the labour force in 2017.


VEC uses publicly available data, including data obtained through WorkSafe BC, to calculate the total payroll for the film, television, post-production and animation industry in B.C. (as defined by classification units 763025 and 763024).

VEC estimates the ratios of payroll to total spend for the industry using existing CAVCO data, and through consultation with industry experts and financial & HR staff at leading film, television, post-production and animation companies.

  • This research encompasses feature films, television series, commercials, documentaries, animation, and post-production activities, but does not include TV broadcasting and games development
  • The codes do include some spend on visual effects and animation work performed outside of the feature film & television industry (e.g. advertising, video games, etc.)
  • Datasets are for the calendar year rather than fiscal year

This methodology has been independently validated and approved by PwC and their team of global media experts.