Pinewood to Invest Millions in British Films

U.K. studio facilities group is to co-invest in small budget British movies, investing up to 20% of each project.


LONDON -- U.K. studio facilities group Pinewood Shepperton, listed on the U.K. stock exchange, is to co-invest in small budget British movies, investing up to 20 percent in equity for each project picked.

The facilities group will target projects with production budgets of up to £2 million ($3.2 million) and aim to take a investment position on the project while also benefiting from the shoots using studio capacity and “the expected take-up of ancillary services at the studios.”

Pinewood Shepperton aims to target up to four productions each year, each selected by industry partners on behalf of the facilities group. The total investment could hit £1.6 million ($2.6 million) annually on those figures.

Pinewood Shepperton CEO Ivan Dunleavy, while describing the investment ambitions in projects as “small scale,” said it will help the British movie industry because it will “offer British films access to the world class facilities and production expertise at Pinewood and Shepperton Studios which would normally be beyond their budget.”

The group also announced plans, subject to the sticky issue of planning consent, to build a further 30,000 sq ft stage suitable for both film and television. 

The plans to invest in movies come as the group posted a 31 percent rise in pre-tax profit for 2010 to £5.8 million ($9.4 million), up from 2009’s figure of £4.5 million ($7.3 million). Revenues in the year ending Dec. 31, 2010 also rose 8 percent to £43.4 million ($70.2 million), up from the previous year’s tally of £40.3 million ($65.2 million).

The group also trumpeted the three year agreement between the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers saying it “will provide certainty around US film production,” a welcome fillip to the facility which benefits from big budget spends on its turf.

“We have grown the top line by winning big budget international films which have been attracted to Pinewood by the superior quality of our assets and the range of services that we can offer,” Dunleavy told the stock exchange. “Our television business continued to perform well at the top end of a difficult broadcast market.”

Film revenues for 2010 -- garnered from projects setting up shop there and shooting -- hit £29.1 million ($47 million), a 28 percent from 2009’s £22.6 million ($36.6 million), an increase of 28 percent.

The biggest movie productions based at Pinewood Studios during 2010 was Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Disney) and the largest production based at Shepperton Studios was Hugo Cabret (GK Films).

Other productions using Pinewood Shepperton facilities included Clash of the Titans (Warner Bros.), Captain America: The First Avenger (Marvel), X- Men: First Class (Fox), Dark Tide (Magnet Media), Johnny English Reborn (Working Title), Jane Eyre (Ruby Films), My Week with Marilyn (Trademark Films), The Woman in Black (Hammer Films) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Warner Bros.).

But television revenues posted a downturn in 2010 on the back of a decision by both commercial web ITV and pubcaster the BBC opting to take much of their production to in-house studio facilities.

TV revenues dropped to £8.2 million ($13.3 million) last year, down from £11.3 million ($18.3 million) in 2009.

Pinewood and Teddington television studios played host to shows including My Family (DLT), A League of Their Own (CPL), Britain’s Best Dish (ITVS), Would I Lie to You (Zepperton), Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (ITV) and IT Crowd (talkbackTHAMES).