Pinewood H1 profit down on actors' dispute

U.K. Studio group says overall demand remains strong

LONDON -- U.K. studio facilities group Pinewood Shepperton, listed here on the stock exchange, posted Tuesday a fall in revenues from filmmaking and a small downturn from television activities for the first six months of 2009.

Film revenues for the six months reached £11.8 million ($19.4 million), down from £13 million in the first six months of last year.

The group said "overall demand remains strong" but wider economic pressure has tightened the access to film financing, which in turn "has meant producers are taking longer to commence productions."

Pinewood Shepperton chief executive Ivan Dunleavy said: "The marginally lower year-on-year film revenues reflect the impact of the Screen Actors Guild dispute."

The largest production based at the studios during the period was Ridley Scott's Untitled Robin Hood Adventure for Universal. Other major productions using Pinewood Shepperton's facilities in the first six months of 2009 included "The Wolfman," "Cemetery Junction," "Gulliver's Travels" and "Clash of the Titans."

The group also noted that television revenues for the first half of 2009 tuned in to £5.5 million ($9 million), down slightly from 2008's £5.8 million tally, but the slight decline was "as anticipated."

The fall follows the same trading pattern during the first six months of last year, with television revenues slightly weighted to the second half, the group said.

The pressures on the television advertising model has seen some marginal impact which has been "mitigated by tight cost control," the company said.

Repeat business from shows such as "The Weakest Link" and "Harry Hill's TV Burp" as well as new productions including "Britain's Best Dish" for ITV and "Wogan's Total Recall" for Channel Four have kept television revenues flowing.

The group said profit before tax for the group overall fell to £1.7 million ($2.8 million) in the six months ending June 30 this year, down from £3.8 million during the same period last year.

Revenues also fell back slightly in the first half of this year to £20.3 million ($33.3 million), down from £21.7 million in the first six months of 2008.

Cash generated from its Media Park business for the six months of 2009 increased to £3 million ($4.9 million), up slightly from £2.9 million in 2008.

Dunleavy said the interim results showed "resilience" against a backdrop of wider industry and economic pressures.

"The results reflect a solid performance in television and demonstrate the value of our Media Park where revenues increased."

Dunleavy said the next six months would very much depend on a uptick in new film starts and the fact that television revenues are "expected to be stable, despite broadcasters' programming cuts."
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