Pinewood profits jump in '06

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LONDON -- Film and television production studio Pinewood Shepperton unveiled strong growth in television and film production Tuesday, announcing a pretax 2006 profit of £7.2 million ($14.2 million) on turnover up 22% at £40.7 million ($80 million), from £33.4 million in 2005.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization were up 37% at £12.3 million ($24.2 million), from £8.9 million the year before.

Pinewood chairman Ivan Dunleavy said television revenue was up 32% at £11.8 million ($23.2 million) and that the film production business in the U.K. was anticipated to grow.

"As we anticipated, a number of significant film customers returned to Pinewood Shepperton during 2006," Dunleavy said. "Our strategy to diversify further into television has resulted in significant revenue growth from this activity, which increasingly will help to mitigate the effects of more volatile film revenues."

Dunleavy said film production spending in the U.K. -- driven by film tax incentives -- was up 48% to £840 million ($1.7 billion) in 2006, up from £569 million in 2005, the second-highest spend on record. But he pointed out that competition from international studios and locations such as the U.S., Hungary, the Czech Republic and Spain remained fierce and that the weaker dollar also made the U.K. a costlier production hub.

"Despite weak current U.S. dollar exchange rates, we believe that international filmmakers retain an appetite to access the premium quality of U.K. facilities and filmmaking talent such as British directors, scriptwriters and technicians," he said.

Dunleavy said the new 007 stage was up and running, less than a year after the original was destroyed by a fire. But he did not confirm that the next Bond movie will be filmed at the studios.

Movies made in 2006 using the Pinewood Shepperton facilities include "Atonement," "Casino Royale," "Children of Men," "The Bourne Ultimatum" and "Sweeney Todd."
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