Queen Elizabeth tours Pinewood Studios

Royal tour let Ontario showcase 3D expertise to int'l media

TORONTO – Britain's Queen Elizabeth slapped on 3D goggles Monday as she toured the Pinewood Toronto Studios in Toronto.

The British monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh donned the bulky glasses for a live action 3D shoot using stereoscopic camera rigs, followed by a viewing of the scene in 3D.

The royal tour of the Screen Industries Research and Training Center at Pinewood Toronto Studios gave the Ontario government an opportunity to showcase local 3D expertise to the international media.

"It's a great honor to have Her Majesty the Queen on hand at Pinewood Toronto Studios, and to cement our relationship," Pinewood Shepperton CEO Ivan Dunleavy said as the royal couple popped by for a visit on the penultimate day of their Canadian tour.

Paul Bronfman, owner of the Comweb Group, a film equipment supplier, and chairman of Pinewood Toronto Studios, said the royal visit aimed to lift the Toronto studio's profile as it looks to land a big-budget, effects-heavy movie on its lot.

"When we have a hit, the floodgates will open," Bronfman predicted.

The Toronto studio has filled up with recent credits that include the ABC series "Happy Town," the Daniel Craig-starring feature "Dream House" and the comic book franchise picture "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World."

Dunleavy, fresh from a shareholder rebellion at Pinewood Shepperton's recent annual general meeting in London last week, urged patience for Pinewood Toronto Studios one year into its sales and marketing contract with the British studio giant.

"The owners and backers of this studio, and the city and provincial government officials, know this facility is built for the long term," he said.

Bronfman was an original investor in FilmPort and had a chance to back out of the loss-making Toronto studio before it was rebranded as Pinewood Toronto Studios.

"I made the right decision. I had a choice to get out. But Pinewood Shepperton has added a whole new element to the facility," he explained.

Canadian director David Cronenberg has pledged to make a movie on Pinewood Toronto Studios' signature 46,000 "mega-studio" soundstage, and local movie producer Don Carmody ("Chicago") is also considering a major shoot on the lot.

Bronfman recalled it took four years during the early 1980s for one of his earlier studio ventures, the North Shore Studios complex in Vancouver, to land a little sci-fi TV series, "The X-Files."

That TV series became a popular hit show and guaranteed the future success of the North Shore Studios business.

Bronfman also credits the Ontario government for last year introducing a 25% all-spend film tax credit for foreign producers to get the province competitive with rival locales like Louisiana and New Mexico.

The Queen and Prince Philip earlier in the day toured the Research in Motion headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario, where the Blackberry is made.
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