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Moscow to Malaysia: 5 Hip Global Locations

Issue 17 BKLOT Muppets - H 2013
2013 Disney Enterprises
Disney's "The Muggets...Again!," starring Ricky Gervais, is shooting at Pinewood.

Disney has "The Muppets… Again!" at London's improved Pinewood Studios -- part of the international pitch to bring in big business.

This story first appeared in the May 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

In a world where overseas markets play an increasingly important role in Hollywood -- and with everyone trying to lure stateside productions abroad with tax breaks -- foreign studio space is in high demand. Hence the boom in new and updated installations in every corner of the globe.

PINEWOOD STUDIOS

Pinewood submitted $316 million in expansion plans to local authorities earlier this year. The studio on the outskirts of London, which boasts the famous 59,000-square-foot 007 stage and the recently opened 30,000-square-foot Richard Attenborough stage, aims to project a sense of growth for its investors, and expansion is a surefire way to do so.

Facilities: Pinewood features 18 stages and two digital TV studios. It also offers a permanently filled underwater filming stage and an exterior water tank. On site are five mixing theaters, including a preview theater, ADR and Foley suites and 60 acres of backlots.

Recent projects: The Muppets ... Again!, Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie, Skyfall

Testimonial: Says Ridley Scott, who has shot many films, including Blade Runner and Gladiator, at the facilities: "There is no doubt in my mind that the U.K. has to keep investing in new technology, skills and infrastructure to keep pace with international competition. The expansion at Pinewood is long overdue."

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GLAVINKO STUDIOS MOSCOW

Located less than five miles from Moscow's city limits (an hour from Red Square), Russia's first newly built studio in more than 60 years opened in March 2012.

Facilities: Glavinko encompasses a dozen soundstages -- including a 33,368-square-foot soundstage that is Eastern Europe's biggest -- rehearsal halls, sound, dubbing, editing and postproduction facilities.

Recent projects: Up to 70 percent of the studio's projects have been for Russian TV, but feature films include the war film August. Eighth and Mystery of the Snow Queen, a kids' adventure.

Testimonial: "We offer deals that are 10 percent less than some of our central European competitors," says Glavinko CEO Ilya Bachurin, "and we are ready to invest in co-production if the right project comes along." 

PINEWOOD ISKANDAR MALAYSIA STUDIOS

Announced in 2009, Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios is a $120 million joint venture between Khazanah Nasional, the Malaysian government-backed investment company, and Pinewood. The facility is due to open in May.

Facilities: There are five film soundstages totaling 100,000 square feet; two 12,000-square-foot HD-equipped TV studios; postproduction suites; a 10-acre backlot for exterior set construction; and 35,000 square feet of production office space.

Testimonial: "The construction of this world-class integrated facility will be the catalyst for the attraction of international production," says Michael Lake, CEO of Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios (and former president of Warner Roadshow Studios in Australia).

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CHINA FILM VIRTUAL STAGE

Part of Beijing's China Film Studio, this new facility allows filmmakers to shoot live action on a green-screen stage while watching real-time visualization of the scenes with effects mixed in.

Facilities: The CFVS' new greenscreen stage is 8,611 square feet. Although it's the most technologically advanced, the new stage is the smallest at the studio, which contains 16 soundstages going up to 53,820 square feet.

Recent projects: The studio has hosted more than 470 films and TV series since it opened in 2008, including such domestic blockbusters as Aftershock and John Woo's Red Cliff.

Testimonial: Says Emperor Motion Pictures CEO Albert Lee: "It's good news that there is this new facility available for our productions to use. It gives us flexibility."

DOCKLANDS STUDIOS MELBOURNE

Established by a private consortium with state government backing in 2004 as a cost-effective alternative to Australia's largest lots -- Fox Studios in Sydney and Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast Queensland -- Docklands recently upgraded its soundstages and workshop areas at a cost of $10 million.

Facilities: Five soundstages, ranging in size from 8,000 square feet to 25,000 square feet. The upper floors house self-contained production offices.

Recent projects: I, Frankenstein, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, Knowing, The Pacific, Australia's Got Talent, Deal or No Deal.

Testimonial: Says Don't Be Afraid of the Dark executive producer Stephen Jones: "I always look forward to shooting in Melbourne. Great city, great crews and great studio."