Pinewood Shepperton revenues slide in 2009

Screen Actors Guild negotiations, economic downturn blamed

LONDON -- U.K. studio facilities operator Pinewood Shepperton posted a downturn in results Wednesday across the board for the year ending Dec. 31, 2009 putting the drop partially down to the protracted Screen Actors Guild negotiations and the downturn in the general economic environment.

The group reported a fall in revenue during 2009 to £40.3 million ($61 million) from the previous year's £42.9 million ($65 million) tally. Operating profit in 2009 also fell to £7.7 million ($11.7 million) from £8.4 million ($12.7 million) over the previous 12 months.

Breaking the figures down, the group showed a downturn in movie activity, despite a rally in business in the last quarter of 2009.

Pinewood Shepperton film revenues hit £22.7 million ($34.4 million) by the end of 2009 from £24.2 million ($36.7 million) the previous year.

"We had anticipated that 2009 would reflect the impact of the protracted negotiations between the U.S. studios and the Screen Actors Guild which were resolved in June 2009, for a further period of two years," said Pinewood Shepperton CEO Ivan Dunleavy in a statement to the stock exchange.

"Overall demand for content was strong, however wider economic pressures have tightened access to financing for all producers, which in turn has meant that they are focused on successful 'big film' franchises, a market the Group is well placed to compete in."

The tax credit system and a favorable exchange rate between sterling and the dollar for stateside producers locating there to shoot provided a bit of sunshine in otherwise gloomy operating conditions.

Big budget spends came from "Robin Hood" backed by Universal, Fox's "Gulliver's Travels," and Warner Bros' "Clash of The Titans" and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

The television activity faired the same, posting a fall in revenues to £11.3 million ($17 million) last year, down from 2008's £12.7 million ($19.2 million) figure.

Pinewood Shepperton said the downturn is due to the general economic environment resulting in reduced television advertising revenues and pressure on broadcasters production budgets.

But there was repeat business at the facility with shows such as "My Family," "Wogan's Perfect Recall," "Dragon's Den" and "Would I Lie to You" all returning.

Dunleavy said: "Our strategy has delivered a solid performance. We are well positioned to cater for the growing demand for creative content and have made substantial progress in all areas of our U.K. business. We are encouraged by the growth opportunity in television, our leading position in film and television studios in the U.K., the performance of our Media Park revenues and the long term potential of our international branding partnerships."

Media Park revenues for 2009 increased to £6.3 million ($9.5 million), up from £6 million ($9 million) the previous year, marking the rise of tenanted areas used by technology, digital service companies, a film processing laboratory and numerous other support businesses related to the film and television industry.
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