Film spot-on for Pinewood; forecast soft

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LONDON -- Studio facilities group Pinewood Shepperton posted an uptick in film revenue for the first half and a TV revenue decline Tuesday, with brass predicting a reversal of those trends for the full year.

Total revenue dipped from £18.7 million ($37.7 million) in first-half 2006 to £18.3 million ($36.9 million) this year. Operating profit was unchanged at £3.6 million ($7.3 million).

The group reported revenue from film hit £10.8 million ($21.8 million) in first-half 2007, an increase of 9% year-over-year.

High-profile movies shooting across the group's stages, which include those at Pinewood and Shepperton, include "Sweeney Todd" (pictured), "The Golden Compass" and "Mamma Mia!"

Pinewood's flagship 007 stage, which was destroyed last year by fire, cost £5.2 million ($10.5 million) to rebuild, the group said.

The group also said Tuesday that film revenue likely would be flat for the full year, largely because of delays facing major productions. Such delayed productions are now set to shoot at the studios in 2008 instead, though the threat of strikes by writers and actors in the U.S. is adding to the uncertainty.

To counter the "volatility of the film business," the firm said it aims to continue to diversify into TV production, including investing in the provision of high-definition cameras, expand its postproduction and commercials business, as well as develop its media park.

Production delays hit TV revenue in the first half, reaching £4.7 million ($9.5 million), short of the £5.5 million ($11.1 million) in the same time last year.

A volume deal with the BBC is about to kick in, and recent promises by U.K. broadcasters to step up local production has prompted Pinewood to predict year-end revenue from TV would be up. The company also said it would be making a bid for BBC Resources, which provides production facilities to the pubcaster.
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