Bronfman enters Toronto's FilmPort

5:00 AM PST 07/06/2007 by Etan Vlessing, AP

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TORONTO -- Toronto's FilmPort, the city's planned mega-studio for Hollywood shoots, said Wednesday that veteran Canadian studio and equipment supplier Paul Bronfman has acquired a stake in the project.

As part of the agreement, Bronfman's Comweb Studio Holdings and Toronto real estate developer Rose Corp. will invest CAN$30 million in FilmPort, which is set to open in March.

Bronfman said his minority stake in FilmPort is less than 50%, but "pretty significant."

ComWeb also will supply production equipment at FilmPort, which will comprise an initial 260,000 square feet of studio space -- seven sound stages -- for marquee Hollywood shoots.

Rose Corp., which operates the existing Toronto Films Studio complex in the city through its Rose Films Studios Inc. division, earned the contract to build FilmPort from the city of Toronto after a lengthy tendering process.

The CAN$30 million ($28.4 million) capital injection will cover roughly half of the initial CAN$60 million ($56.8 million) construction costs for FilmPort's first phase.

Rose brought Bronfman's Comweb group on board because it has more experience servicing Hollywood shoots, in Canada as well as in the U.S. and Europe.

In addition, Rose Corp., which has carried the cost of building FilmPort to date, has brought new equity into the project.

"Filmport is now a well-capitalized and well-financed project, led by a board of directors with expertise in both real estate development and film and television production," FilmPort president Ken Ferguson said.

Bronfman's studio roots go back to the 1980s when he helped build and manage the North Shore Studios in Vancouver. Most recently, he was involved in turning an abandoned power plant into the Great Lakes Studios complex on Toronto's waterfront, before walking away from that venture.

Bronfman's Comweb group also runs William F. White International, a film and TV equipment supplier, based in Toronto.

Rival Toronto real estate developer Alfredo Romano in April announced he was partnering with Britain's Pinewood Studios Group to build 100,000 square feet of new studio space for big-budget Hollywood movies in midtown Toronto (HR 4/16).
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