U.K. Studios Facility Pinewood Shepperton Unveils Welsh Outpost and Fund

10:55 AM PST 02/17/2014 by Stuart Kemp
Arc Entertainment
"Ironclad"

The group said it would partner on a $50 million television and movie investment package backed by the government in Wales as it prepares to lease and run a 180,000 square-foot complex in the country.

LONDON – U.K. studios facility group Pinewood Shepperton will open a studio site in Cardiff, Wales, the group said on Monday.

The move to open a 180,000-square-foot complex in Wales, the country in which the BBC shoots Doctor Who, follows Pinewood's expansion plans for its site on the outskirts being rejected by the local planning authority.

Pinewood Studios Wales will be based at the former Energy Centre building in Wentloog and will form part of the company's global network of facilities.

The group is partnering with the Welsh government on the plans.

The deal was announced on Monday by Wales' first minister Carwyn Jones and Pinewood Shepperton chief executive Ivan Dunleavy.

The Welsh government hopes the 180,000-square-foot complex will generate an estimated £90 million ($150 million) for the economy.

Pinewood and Shepperton Studios have hosted more than 1,500 films over more than 75 years, including the James Bond franchise.

The plans were warmly received by some of the big names from the Welsh acting community.

Michael Sheen (Twilight), who hails from Port Talbot in Wales and was on duty as an awards' presenter at the EE British Academy Film awards, described the deal as great news for the BBC.

"This is a logical next step, building upon the huge success of the revitalized Welsh entertainment industry," he said.

"It's always a precarious business to attempt such a large undertaking, but it points to the confidence, the expertise and the creative spirit of the people of Wales, and I hope it can help the country come closer to realizing its hopes for the future," Sheen told the public broadcaster's website.

The Americans star Matthew Rhys, from Cardiff, said it was an opportunity for Welsh talent.

"This is more good news for Wales, and recognition of our place on the world stage as a destination for film and television drama production," he said.

Pinewood and the Welsh government are also partnering on a $50 million (£30 million) television and film investment fund to fuel the industry.

Dunleavy said: "We are delighted to have agreed with the Welsh government to advise it on its television and film funding initiative. This builds on our success with Pinewood Pictures and managing the Isle of Man Treasury Film and Television Fund. Our combined advisory investment funds now total £55 million, making them one of the largest investment portals for new British television and film content."

Dunleavy predicted that the fund and new facility combined "will do much to boost the Welsh film and television sector. The fund is also another step forward for creating a sustainable U.K. film and television production center."

Pinewood will lease the Cardiff building for a minimum of five years from the Welsh government.

However, this is not the first attempt to create a movie studio complex in Wales.

In 2008, the multi-million pound Dragon International Studios in the Rhondda region, spearheaded by Richard Attenborough and nicknamed Valleywood, was partly mothballed after promising to put Wales at the heart of the U.K. film industry.

Only one film, Ironclad, was shot at the site.

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