A North Bay production company wants to turn the northern Ontario city into a center for film and television production with a $26 million investment to build a major studio.
North Star Studios has purchased a 100,000 square foot property from Epiroc, a large mining supply company, and plans to convert most of the space into five sound stages for film and television productions.
The building sits on 4.8 hectares of land, which company president Mitch Ouimette says will provide opportunities for expansion.
“Ultimately, when we’re done, we should see about half a million square feet of new stages built in the North Bay area,” Ouimette said. “Now we’re talking somewhere between five, six, seven, eight.”
Ouimette said the plans could create up to 1,000 new jobs in North Bay, which would include people directly involved in film and television productions, but also jobs in construction and sectors that benefit from the industry, including including the hotel industry.
Why can’t North Bay be the next movie hub in the entertainment world?– Mitch Ouimette, President, North Star Studios
Ouimette said North Bay has the potential to compete with major film and television production hubs like Toronto, Atlanta and London, England.
“At one point, someone in Atlanta thought, ‘Damn, that would make a great movie hub.’ And they did,” he said.
“At one point someone in London had a similar thought and they fulfilled it. Now my team and I are here saying, ‘Why can’t North Bay be the next hub? cinema in the world of entertainment?'”
To that end, North Star Studios has signed a two-year, $150 million deal with a film production company called ORWO Group.
Jake Seal, executive chairman of ORWO Group, said the company had three films it planned to shoot in the studio with “world-recognized names”.
In addition to the three films, the company also plans to produce television shows in North Bay.
Seal said the northeastern Ontario town has a lot to offer for media production.
“We fell in love with the place,” he said.
“We fell in love with what it can do and the changing impact of the seasons and the wonderful, supportive nature of the people there. There is wonderful geography, there is snow and very reliable ice at certain times of the year, and you get a great summer season.”