Bell Media Boosts Controlling Stake in Pinewood Toronto Studios

Pinewood Toronto Studios - Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy PT Studios Inc.

The Canadian media giant has also taken a minority stake in Montreal's Grande Studios, where Roland Emmerich is shooting 'Moonfall,' starring Halle Berry.

Pinewood Toronto Studios majority owner Bell Media has increased its stake in the marquee studio, while also taking a minority stake in Montreal's Grande Studios as it raises its bet on Hollywood continuing to film movies and TV series in Canada.

Terms of the deal that sees property developer Alfredo Romano's Castlepoint Numa sell its minority interest in Pinewood Toronto Studios to Bell Media were not disclosed. And the deal points on Bell Media's minority investment in Grande Studios, where Roland Emmerich is shooting his sci-fi disaster movie Moonfall, which stars Halle Berry and John Bradley, were also not disclosed.

But Bell Media raising its stake in Canadian soundstages comes as Hollywood studios and streamers like Netflix, Hulu and Walt Disney are resuming production amid the pandemic after having to shut down in March 2020.

"Because in the U.S. a pause button got hit on a lot of new content, there's going to be a real need for new content. We're a desirable destination," Nanci MacLean. vp of Bell Media Studios and president and Pinewood Toronto Studios, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Grande Studios, which also hosted production for X-Men: Dark Phoenix and Jack Ryan, offers 227,000 square feet of soundstages at three locations, including the Pointe St-Charles and La Salle studios in Montreal. There's another 250,000 square feet of production office space on offer.

To meet an anticipated surge in American film and TV production post-pandemic, Pinewood Toronto Studios has started construction work on another five soundstages, comprising around 200,000 square footage of space, with an early 2022 target completion date.

Pinewood Toronto Studios, which has an existing 330,000 square feet of stages, has hosted shoots for It: Chapter Two, The Christmas Chronicles, A Simple Favor, Molly’s Game and The Expanse. Hollywood production north of the border remains under strict health and safety restrictions amid the pandemic.

But the promise of a vaccine has Canadians anticipating a strong 2021 and beyond for their production sector as Los Angeles producers covet tax credits and currency savings when coming north. "We're in a really good place. There's a huge demand. People are watching more. And the streaming platforms need new content to keep people entertained," MacLean said.