Foreign-producedfeature films spent $267m (C$331m) in Ontario in 2004, a nearly 140% increaseover the previous year's $112m, according to numbers released Wednesday by theOntario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), the provincial agency thatadministers tax credits and local services.

The increase isless a harbinger of things to come than an indication of just how bad thingswere in 2003 - when the threat of a SARS epidemic stifled production throughoutthe country. That said, local feature production, which rose in 2003 to a $72mspend contracted by 56% in 2004 with 13 features spending less than $32m.

Overall foreignand domestic film and television productions contributed $753m to theprovincial economy in 2004, a seven per cent increase from the $705m spent in2003 but still below the $794m spent in 2002.

In a statement, Marcelle Lean, chair of the OMDC, said,"while the industry has not fully recovered from a difficult 2003, we hope thatthe worst is finally behind us. Recent tax credit improvements aimed atimproving Ontario's competitiveness should make it even more attractive forproductions to choose Ontario."

In December, the provinceincreased its labour-based tax credit for foreign productions to 18% ofeligible labour costs while the credit for domestic productions was increasedto 30% of eligible labour costs.