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Pace of Filming on L.A. Streets Declines 2.9% in 1st Quarter

April 08, 1999|JAMES BATES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Shooting of films, television shows, commercials and other entertainment-related productions on the streets of Los Angeles dipped during the first quarter of this year, despite a strong rebound in activity in March.

In the first three months of 1999, the number of production days--days spent filming outside of studio lots--fell 2.9% from the first quarter of last year to 7,478, according to the Entertainment Industry Development Corp., which oversees film permits in most of Los Angeles County.

But activity rose 12% in March from the same month a year ago, partly because television producers are trying to wrap up work before the seasonal hiatus. Commercial activity also was strong in March, officials said.

By contrast, activity was down 11% in both January and February.

Movies remain the weakest of the major segments as studios trim back productions to contain soaring costs and thin their bloated release schedules. Overall, movie production days fell 21% in the first quarter to 2,154.

TV activity rose 9% to 2,875 days in the quarter, while commercial shooting days increased 6% from a year earlier.

After enjoying a boom in the mid-1990s, production activity in Southern California has been flattening out over the last year as studios scale back. In addition, some producers are seeking cheaper locations to film, such as Canada and Australia.

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