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L.A. film shoots dive 20% in final quarter of 2022 as production returns to 2019 levels

An older man clenches his fists in "Curb Your Enthusiasm."
Larry David stars in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” The HBO show was among those filming in L.A. in the last quarter.
(HBO)
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On-location filming in Los Angeles took a dive in the fourth quarter of last year as studios pared back movie and TV production that surged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From October to December, Los Angeles County recorded 8,674 shoot days, down 19.5% from the same period a year ago, FilmLA said in a report Wednesday. The nonprofit group handles film permits for the city and county. That final quarter brought the 2022 total shoot days to 36,792 across all categories, down 2.4% from 2021 and up 0.7% from 2019.

The last couple of years have seen a surge in filming driven by pent-up demand after the pandemic forced a multi-month shutdown, as well as the growth in demand from streaming platforms. Now production appears to be settling back to pre-pandemic levels.

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“Q4 2022 is being compared against an unseasonably strong Q4 in 2021,” said Philip Sokoloski, spokesman for FilmLA, in an email. “The surge we saw in the first half of the year reversed mid-year 2022 for a very similar finish to 2021, viewed on an annual basis.”

L.A. saw a peak in film production in 2016, when the number of shoot days reached 39,627. The question now is whether production will continue to decline.

“Can we hold here, or will the pre-COVID downtrend resume?” asked FilmLA President Paul Audley. “That is the question everyone is asking.”

Filming of commercials took the biggest hit, falling 24.5% below its five-year annual average. In the fourth quarter, production fell 33.7%, to 828 shoot days. There were 4,119 shoot days for commercials in 2022, including for McDonald’s and Albertsons, down 22.6% from 2021.

TV remains the most active area of filming in L.A. County.

Television production ended the year 7.3% above its five-year annual average, FilmLA said. But activity dropped 9.6%, to 16,778 shoot days, in 2022, from the same period in 2021. The sector recorded a 24.2% drop, to 3,735 shoot days during the fourth quarter, versus the same period of the previous year.

TV comedies in particular took a sharp hit, down 33.9%, to 353 shoot days in the fourth quarter, from the same period of 2021. The full year for comedy TV ended down 2.2%, at 1,273 shoot days, from the year before. HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and Peacock’s “Killing it” were among those shooting locally in the last quarter.

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L.A. welcomed Netflix movies “Atlas” and “Beverly Hills Cop 4” in the last quarter, but the amount of film production continues to trend downward.

The last year saw feature film production down 24% from its five-year average. The fourth quarter ended up with 760 shoot days, down 16.2% from the same period in 2021. The full year registered 3,080 shoot days, down 9.6% from 2021.

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