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The Last of Us had huge economic impact for Alberta: report

The largest television series ever filmed in Canada, HBO spent $141 million on show filmed partly in Okotoks, Foothills, High River

The results are in from the largest television series ever filmed in Canada.

The Motion Picture Association-Canada released the findings of the economic impact from season one of HBO’s The Last of Us, which had shooting locations all over southern Alberta, including Okotoks, High River and Foothills County, with over $141 million spent across the province.

The Last of Us, the largest series ever filmed in Canada, has left an indelible mark on Alberta’s economic landscape,” said Alberta Minister of Jobs, Economy, and Trade Matt Jones, in a release. “Supported by Alberta’s Film and Television Tax Credit, this monumental production not only showcased the breathtaking facets of our province but also emphasized why Alberta, with over 180 diverse filming locations, is a world-class destination for large-scale film and television productions.”

The findings, put forth by Oxford Economics, revealed $71 million was spent on production costs, wages and salaries for crew, and an additional $70 million spent on local businesses in the province.

In terms of job creation, The Last of Us generated 1,490 jobs in the province in 2021-22 and generated more than $182 million to Alberta’s GDP.

“The TV series production itself employed an estimated 840 FTE (full-time equivalent) workers, or 56 per cent of the total. The local spending on goods and services supported another 390 jobs along the national supply chain or 26 per cent of the total,” the report states.

“A further 260 jobs, or 17 per cent of the total, were supported by the spending of wages across the province by production crews and by employees of the show’s suppliers. In 2021/2022, for every 100 people the production directly employed, a further 78 FTE jobs were supported across the province through secondary effects.

“According to HBO, season one of The Last of Us is estimated to have benefited from close to $40 million in tax incentives. These incentives are estimated to have produced $4.6 in GDP for every dollar of tax incentive received by the production.”

The post-apocalyptic series — starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey which aired from January to March, 2023 — shot on location in Okotoks’ Suntree neighbourhood in January and February, 2022.

Not including the wider economic benefit at local businesses, the Town of Okotoks alone brought in $18,000 from the production's stop in town, after the $20,000 deduction used to pay staff hours associated with it such as municipal enforcement presence.

Other shooting locations in the area included the former community of Beachwood and Evelyn’s Memory Lane Diner in High River, the Mazeppa Gas Plant, the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation area, Sheep River Falls, Priddis and Bragg Creek, Nanton and Claresholm.

Travel Alberta has created a map of filming locations in the province.

The second season of the series is set to be filmed in B.C. in 2024.

“With more than 180 locations spread out over 1,000 km of terrain, the film commissions in Alberta met the enormous challenge of helping to create the largest series ever shot in Canada,” added Mark Ham, Alberta film commissioner. “Thanks to the success of The Last of Us, the global film industry is now talking about Alberta as a fantastic place to bring their stories to life on the screen, no matter the size of the project.

“We have great incentives, crew and locations — a combination that is hard to find anywhere else.”

With files from Brent Calver

Remy Greer

About the Author: Remy Greer

Remy Greer is the assistant editor and sports reporter for and the Western Wheel newspaper. For story tips contact [email protected]
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