Pinewood Toronto inks sales, marketing deal

Pinewood Shepperton teams with Toronto's Filmport Studios

LONDON -- British studio facilities group Pinewood Shepperton, listed here on the stock exchange, told the markets Thursday that it has sealed a sales and marketing pact with the investors of Toronto's Filmport Studios.

The pact between the facility powerhouses will run for an initial five years and see the Canadian facility renamed Pinewood Toronto Studios.

Day-to-day operations of Pinewood Toronto Studios will be led by its newly appointed managing director Edith Myers who will report to the board.

Pinewood Shepperton will earn fees based on the revenue performance of Pinewood Toronto Studios, the British-based company said.

CEO Ivan Dunleavy said "This new agreement is an exciting development in our strategy to broaden the Pinewood brand and leverage our reputation in film and television in a new market for the group."

At the same time, the British studio giant took care Thursday to insist it does not intend to step on local competition in the Toronto studio market.

Dunleavy said Pinewood Shepperton wanted to see movie and TV production fill studio space across the city to enhance Toronto's reputation as a production center.

"In that sense, we are pleased whenever we see production coming into the Toronto market," Dunleavy said. "It adds to the city's collective reputation. We will be supportive of any production entering the Toronto market."

Pinewood Shepperton's entry into the Toronto market has already stirred competitive concerns among local players, especially as the city of Toronto will help bankroll Pinewood Toronto Studios as a minority investor.

"Cinespace welcomes competition, but wonders how local studios are supposed to compete against a taxpayer subsidized studio," said Steve Mirkopolous, president of rival Cinespace Film Studios.

Situated on an 11-acre brown field site east of downtown Toronto, Pinewood Toronto Studios comprises seven newly built sound stages, including a 46,000 square-foot MegaStage, the largest of its kind in North America. Pinewood Toronto Studios' new investors are Return on Innovation Fund Inc., Castlepoint Realty Partners, Comweb Corp. and the City of Toronto Economic Development Corp.

Etan Vlessing in Toronto contributed to this report.