Pinewood Shepperton posts half-year slump

Delayed film productions cited as root cause

LONDON -- Studio facilities group Pinewood Shepperton posted a slump in both pretax profits and revenues for the first half of 2010, with production companies delaying shoots cited as a root cause.

The group listed here on the stock exchange said despite shoots at the facilities for Martin Scorsese's 3D pic "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," the Disney-backed "John Carter of Mars" and Ruby Films' "Jane Eyre," during the first six months of this year, pretax profits fell 11.5% to £1.5 million ($2.3 million) from £1.65 million ($2.55 million) in the same period last year.

Revenues for the group also dropped to £19 million ($29.3 million) this year from £20.3 million ($31.4 million) in the first half of 2009.

Breaking up the figures, Pinewood Shepperton told the markets film production revenues fell to £10.8 million ($16.7 million) from £11.8 million ($18.2 miilion) while TV revenues also dropped to £5.1 million ($x million) from £5.5 million ($7.87 million) "reflecting the trend caused by the difficult commissioning environment."

Pinewood Shepperton CEO Ivan Dunleavy said the overall revenues for the year are "anticipated to show strong growth ahead of market expectations."

The group is currently under pressure to see chairman Michael Grade step aside as chairman after investment fund Crystal Amber upped its stake from 18% to 27%, making it the largest shareholder in the company ahead of today's results. Crystal Amber publicly called for Grade to step down in June of this year.

Profits at Pinewood Shepperton, home to the James Bond franchise, have fallen 56% since the studios were floated on the stock market in 2004.

Richard Bernstein, director at Crystal Amber, told the press Wednesday he and his team are due to meet the Pinewood board Thursday to go over the results.