By: Etan Vlessing

After hosting production on Marvel’s ‘Hawkeye’ and Paramount+’s ‘Mayor of Kingstown,’ the east Toronto studio plans two more clear span soundstages of 20,000 square feet each.

Toronto’s Stratagem Studios, whose stages recently hosted shoots for Marvel’s Hawkeye and Paramount+’s Mayor of Kingstown, has unveiled plans to add two purpose-built clear span stages of 20,000 square feet each at a cost of $20 million.

The announcement will bring Stratagem Studios Eastside, a studio facility on the city’s eastside, to 350,000 square feet in size, with around 100,000 square feet of soundstages and another 200,000 square feet of supporting production space once the phase-two development is completed as scheduled in 18 to 24 months.

The Stratagem Group, founded by veteran film producer and financier Michael Cerenzie after he returned from Los Angeles to his native Toronto, is betting a continued shortage of film and TV studio space in Toronto will see the expanded Stratagem Studios facility eventually help fill that void.

Like fellow Canadian studio operators, Cerenzie is eyeing Hollywood studios or streamers signing long leases to create stable production hubs where they can sublet space if a series pauses production.

“If someone rents space from us on a long-term basis, and for some reason that show goes away, they have the option to fill that space with another show, and we have the option to help them do that,” Cerenzie told The Hollywood Reporter.

Investors in phase two plans for Stratagem’s turnkey studio to host production on Hollywood tentpoles or big budget streaming shows include Unifor Nabet, the Canadian film and TV workers union pension fund; Ravi Jain, owner and partner of the 1510 Birchmont Road site set for expansion; and unspecified private investors.

Cerenzie recalled having to work overtime to launch his Toronto studio during the pandemic and to get Mayor of Kingstown, created by Taylor Sheridan (Yellowstone), and Marvel’s Hawkeye project that stars Jeremy Renner, onto its soundstages.

“We’re proof of concept. We not only survived, we thrived during the pandemic. The idea is to double down now,” he said.

Toronto deputy mayor Michael Thompson, who is also a councillor for ward 21 in Scarborough Centre, told THR he has seen and backs the expansion plans for the Stratagem Studios site.

Besides Stratagem Studios Eastside, Cerenzie also has a production content and services arm, Stratagem Rx, which is led by Alex Lalonde and helped finance and overcome logistical challenges when Phillip Noyce’s The Desperate Hour thriller, which starred Naomi Watts, shot locally during the pandemic.

The thriller, with a script without major crowd scenes or explosions and unable to find an American location, had its producers cross the border to North Bay, Ontario for one of the first movie shoots to take place during the COVID-19 crisis in summer 2020. It was shot entirely outside in the Canadian wilderness amid strict social distancing measures.

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