Pinewood eyes new Toronto studio

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TORONTO -- Britain's Pinewood Studios Group is partnering with a Canadian real estate developer to build five high-end soundstages in midtown Toronto, local media reported Saturday.

Pinewood will join with CastlePoint Studio Partners Ltd., a division of Toronto real-estate developer CastlePoint Development Corp., to build a 100,000-square-foot studio space on a 2.3-hectare site, according to the Toronto Star.

A London-based spokesman for Pinewood declined comment on any "rumor or speculation." Alfredo Romano, a principal at CastlePoint Development, was unavailable for comment at press time.

Pinewood, whose owners include director Ridley Scott and brother Tony Scott, and Castlepoint Development earlier in 2004 narrowly lost out to rival Toronto real estate developer Rose Corp. to build a mega-studio on the city's waterfront.

Toronto Film Studios, the Rose Corp.'s studio division, is now constructing FilmPort, comprising an initial 260,000 square feet of studio space scheduled to launch in early 2008.

Despite that setback, Pinewood and CastlePoint have regrouped for another Toronto studio proposal, this time for five soundstages to serve big-budget film shoots, according to the Star.

The strategy would see Pinewood either refer high-budget shoots to Toronto, or use the potential facility here to accommodate spillover work from its British operation.

Toronto studio operators welcomed the possibility of the British film studio potentially setting up shop in the city as a much-needed shot in the arm for its ailing film industry.

"I think it's a fabulous thing for Toronto because we have always said that FilmPort cannot be the silver bullet that can save the Toronto film industry. We need a lot more film studios. And here's a world recognized name," TFS president Ken Ferguson said Monday.

Toronto in recent years has lagged behind Vancouver and Montreal in attracting big-budget Hollywood movie shoots, in part, because of a chronic shortage of quality soundstages.

"This will mean more studios. This will mean more competition, and producers like nothing more than competition when deciding in which city to shoot," said Jim Mirkopoulos, vp facility management at Cinespace Film Studios.

Stuart Kemp in London contributed to this report.
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