U.K.'s Pinewood Shepperton Signs Deal to Run Isle of Man Film Fund

Pinewood will advise on film investment opportunities for the island's $40.4 million media development fund, with the Isle taking a small stake in the studio facilities operator.

LONDON - U.K. studio facilities operator Pinewood Shepperton has signed an agreement with the Isle of Man government that will see the company take on the role of manager of and adviser on film investment opportunities for the island's £25 million ($40.4 million) media development fund and "to monitor and capitalize on U.K. distribution rights" to films and TV programs funded by the Isle.

In return, the Isle has agreed to take a small stake in the company by buying around 5 million shares of its stock for £12.2 million ($19.7 million). That amounts to a stake of 9.9 percent. The Isle won't be allowed to increase its stake for two years.
Pinewood Shepperton announced the five-year deal, which has been in the works over the summer and is designed to help the island attract productions, on Monday. It also said that its board has approved an additional 45,000 square-foot studio facility, including a new sound stage, at Pinewood Studios as it continues to invest in its infrastructure.

This follows a multi-million pound investment in the company’s TV business and completion of the Richard Attenborough Stage at Pinewood Studios to service film and TV production.

Pinewood will benefit from the deal not only because of a strategic relationship with a region, but also financially. It will charge the Isle an annual management fee and earn a commission on films introduced by Pinewood, in which the Isle ends up investing. The deal is subject to clearance from the Financial Services Authority. Pinewood said Monday it expects to receive that within the coming weeks.
“We are delighted to have successfully concluded discussions with the Isle of Man Treasury," said Pinewood CEO Ivan Dunleavy. "This agreement is a further example of extending the reach of the Pinewood brand and builds on the company’s successful Pinewood Films initiative to play a bigger role in U.K. independent film and television production."

He added: "Pinewood is a key part of the U.K.'s film industry which made an economic contribution to the U.K. economy of £4.6 billion ($7.4 billion) in 2011."

The Isle of Man, which lies in the Irish Sea, is not part of the U.K., but the latter is responsible for its foreign relations and defense.

The Isle of Man has been active in film and TV production since 1995, investing £170 million ($274 million) in 97 productions, which it says have generated "significant economic benefits."

Among recent films made on the Isle of Man are Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles and The Disappearance of Alice Creed, directed by J Blakeson.
The island has said that 3D documentary TT3D: Closer to the Edge about a motorcycle race on the Isle of Man has attracted additional visitors and drew record-breaking ticket sales for this year’s event.

A core team from Isle of Man government-backed financing and production group CinemaNX is expected to join Pinewood, including chairman Steve Christian. CinemaMX has been managing the island's film development investments.

Under its current structure, the territory's Media Development Fund provides equity financing to film production companies, discounts tax credits for productions qualifying for the U.K. tax credit and provides gap financing and other benefits to productions.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai