'Star Wars: Episode VII' Helps Boost Pinewood Shepperton First-Half Earnings

Pinewood TV Studios - H 2012

The studio facilities operator, known as the U.K. home of the James Bond franchise, also hosted such films as 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' and the 'Alice in Wonderland' sequel

U.K. studio facilities operator Pinewood Shepperton, best known as the British studio home of the James Bond franchise, on Tuesday reported improved financials for the six months ended Sept. 30, the first half of its fiscal year.

Boosting results were such film productions as Star Wars: Episode VII, which recently completed shooting, and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Pinewood Shepperton, the largest provider of stage and studio space in Europe, which is also working on an expansion, recorded a six-month after-tax profit of $6.0 million (£3.8 million). That was up 11.8 percent from £3.4 million for the same period a year earlier.

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Revenue of $60.4 million (£38.5 million) compared with £36.2 million, up 6.4 percent. Film revenue rose 15.2 percent, but TV revenue fell. Among other film productions in the latest period were Tulip Fever, for Ruby Films and The Weinstein Company, and Disney's Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass.

"The demand for the company’s facilities throughout the period has been exceptionally strong, as reflected in stage occupancy of 86 percent," compared with 72 percent in the year-ago period, the company said. The largest film production based at Pinewood Studios during the period was Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, and the largest production at the firm's Shepperton Studios was the latest Avengers movie.

The TV revenue drop was "due to the ongoing wind-down of operations at [the firm's] Teddington [facility], reduced facility availability due to high film occupancy, and a reduction in TV production due to certain shows not being re-commissioned," the company said. "In response to the final point, the company is actively marketing a wider broadcast network and has already won additional shows with a broadcaster that has not used the Pinewood facilities before."

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Said CEO Ivan Dunleavy: "These results reflect continued growth operationally and strategically for the long term. I am delighted the company continues to make such positive progress, notwithstanding the pressures in the wider economy."

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai