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Pinewood Shepperton Chairman Reiterates: 'We Need to Increase Capacity'

Pinewood TV Studios - H 2012
Pinewood TV Studios

Ahead of the start of an inquiry into long-blocked expansion plans, the British studio home of the "James Bond" franchise reports high occupancy trends and opens a new stage.

LONDON – U.K. studio facilities operator Pinewood Shepperton on Monday reiterated its need for more capacity even after completing a new stage before the weekend.

The stage operator near London, which is the home of the James Bond franchise and earlier this year attracted Star Wars: Episode VII as its latest big Hollywood production, has in recent years pushed for more studio space. But earlier this year, a British district council rejected Pinewood's application for a planned $300 million-plus expansion, the second time the company's growth attempts were held back.

After an appeal to the national government, which highlighted the company's ability to create jobs, a public inquiry was set. It will kick off on Nov. 19

"We need to increase capacity at Pinewood Studios," Pinewood chairman Michael Grade reiterated on Monday.

He also mentioned though that Pinewood has just completed construction of its new Q Stage. He said that was part of the company's continued investment in its existing facilities "to ensure that it remains a leading destination for producers of creative content."

About the company's usage trends for the fiscal year started in April, Grade said: "Film revenues to-date reflect very high stage and facility occupancy. Television continues to experience high levels of utilization -- Media Hub occupancy is currently 99 percent."  
 
In June, Pinewood had reported that it has seen a "positive" start to the new fiscal year. "This has continued across all revenue streams," Grade said on Monday. "The board looks forward to the future with confidence."
 
The capacity issue continues to be a big focus for the company, though, as London studios and stages have been busy.

Pinewood CEO Ivan Dunleavy told THR earlier this year: "We work in a world where there is a finite amount of capacity, but the market continues to grow. At some point, it is pretty clear that we must add more capacity."

Pinewood is also launching a local offensive by opening up a weekend cinema for locals and filmmakers alike on its site.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai