Surge in some 2002 shooting days may signal L.A. recovery

Los Angeles?Film and TV activity rebounded strongly in the second half of 2002 with record television ad buys and a record box office combining to bring action to the set.

Television show production led the way with 12,870 shooting days, the largest annual total since the Entertainment Industry Development Corp. began compiling statistics.
The 27,919 total of shooting days in all four production categories was slightly ahead of 2001, rising 1.8%. Commercial production showed a slight gain but film shoots were down for the year by more than 1,000 days and production of music videos continued its several-year decline.

Annual totals are somewhat deceptive, however, as both feature film and television production accelerated during the last six months of the year. The previous year disrupted the normal cycle of production as studios, fearing a work stoppage by actors and writers in May and June of 2001, raced ahead to complete work. Production fell off following the rush and was sluggish through the first few months of 2002. The back log of films disappeared by mid year.
The actual number of production days is substantially larger than reported by EIDC which counts only shoots in public places. These numbers, however, are a barometer of overall production in the 30-mile Studio Zone.
Feature production down but B.O. records set
Feature film production was down 17% for the year to 8,024 days but a record box office led by Sony, Disney, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. led to accelerated production in each of the past six months. Sony Corp.’s Columbia Pictures earned a record $1.57 billion.

Shooting days in October (835) and November (740) showed a return to historical levels during the period 1998-2000 but December’s 530 shooting days were down about 300 days from the three-year average of 813.
For the first time all four studios exceeded $1 billion during a year in which box office soared. Admissions averaged 30.4 million a week, the highest since 1957. Twenty-two films surpassed $100 million in sales and seven exceeded $200 million with eight making the list of the 50 top grossing movies of all time.
Television show production up
Television production days rose 16% to 12,870 in 2002. Studios throughout the region report full occupancy of sound stages. Monthly averages exceeded 1200 shooting days during the period August through November.

Commercials flatlined
Production days for commercials were nearly flat at 5,615 for the year an increase of less than 1%. The trend is upward with December’s shooting days 11% ahead of December 2001 following strong third and fourth quarter numbers. The number of commercial production days in Los Angeles has slid from historical highs averaging 6300 in 1998 and 1999.

Report compiled by Dan Bolton, general manager of Below the Line, a montly publication for crew members published in L.A.