Scotts' Pinewood invests in Filmport studios

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The city of Toronto and Britain's Pinewood Studios Group, backed by Ridley and Tony Scott, are getting into business together at Toronto's Filmport studios.

The Toronto City Council was set to vote Monday on a proposal that would see Pinewood manage Filmport. The move comes as minority stakeholder Rose Corp. exits to make way for new investors.

The new dollars will come from the city, which owns the land Filmport leases and operates; Pinewood's longtime local partner, Alfredo Romano of Castlepoint Development; and equity player ROI Capital.

Paul Bronfman, chairman and CEO of Comweb Group — Canada's largest film-related services and equipment supplier and a Filmport stakeholder — said Monday that a deal to bring Pinewood into Filmport is in the works, but he could not provide details.

In 2004, Pinewood and Castlepoint narrowly lost out to rival Toronto real estate developer Rose Corp. to build a mega-studio on the city's waterfront for high-end, effects-heavy movie shoots.

Castlepoint and Pinewood last year established Castlepoint Studio Partners to build a studio in Toronto on a 5.7-acre site for commercial development.

But Romano and Pinewood late last year began negotiations that would see the British studio giant take an equity stake in Filmport. Those talks stalled when Pinewood was unable to raise financing as the recession locked up credit.

London's poor debt market explains Pinewood's willingness to sign a management deal for Filmport but not take an equity stake.

Filmport was slow to fill its seven soundstages after opening in August, but it is filled to capacity with movie and TV shoots and is expected to reap the rewards of a low Canadian dollar and a resurgence in Hollywood location shoots once SAG's standoff with the studios ends. (partialdiff)
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