It’s been a fruitful year for all the branches of Toronto’s entertainment industry — the theatre thrived, film festivals flourished and production proved prosperous. Even the slowly-slipping Cineplex came out on top, thanks to innovative business ventures in mini-golf and multi-purpose hangout venues. From Toronto’s wide array of cultural offerings to its overflowing film and television industry, here’s a look at some of 2017’s most major moments!
• The city’s theatre scene was alive and well this year, both in the indie circuit and on the grand stages of Mirvish. The Toronto Fringe Festival and Soulpepper saw healthy crowds and ticket sales, while Come From Away, a modest production based on a true story of small-town Canadian hospitality following the events of 9/11, sang and danced its heart out all the way to Broadway and won a Tony award for best direction. Nearby, the historical Stratford Festival celebrated 65 years in show business with age-defyingly edgy casting choices, surprise anniversary appearances, a new dance workshop for audience members and a perfectly balanced line-up of beloved classics and fresh new fare.
• While Toronto’s high-profile annual mainstays like TIFF and Hot Docs drew in celebrity fanfare and audiences from all over the world, the year was jam-packed with so many other worthy film festivals it would be impossible to attend them all. Some were celebrations of the city’s rich cultural tapestry, like CaribbeanTales, imagineNATIVE and the Toronto Palestine Film Festival; Some embraced the many different walks of life that walk our streets, like Inside Out and ReelAbilities Film Festival; Some catered to niche cinephile interests, like Toronto After Dark and the Toronto Silent Film Festival; Others reflected modern media and technology, like the Buffer Festival and the brand new Toronto Drone Film Festival. No matter what you’re into, Toronto has something for everyone!
• Demand for Toronto’s studios and production facilities continued to skyrocket in 2017 — one report estimates that the city has turned away over $130 million in production work this year alone, and major studios like Pinewood are already booked well into 2018. Neighbouring Ontario cities like Hamilton, Sudbury, North Bay and Parry Sound (to name just a few) have all benefitted from the spillover, with new facilities and new jobs in film popping up at an exponential rate and local hospitality businesses thriving. The Ottawa Film Office is working quickly to erect more film-friendly infrastructure in the nation’s capital, while Toronto’s Cinespace Film Studios revealed that construction is underway on two brand new, state-of-the-art studios at their Kipling Studio Campus in Etobicoke.
2017 has certainly had its rewards and its challenges, but it seems like Ontario’s entertainment sector is in great shape to take its inevitable growth in stride in the coming year. Bring it on, 2018!