TORONTO — U.K. studio group Pinewood Shepperton has sealed a comprehensive sales and marketing deal for FilmPort, Toronto’s largest and newest studio.
Thursday’s move marks the first time Pinewood has hung its shingle on a studio outside Blighty and on one that it didn’t solely own.
The facility, now rebranded Pinewood Toronto Studios, opened on 11 acres of former port land in August and features seven soundstages, including a 46,000-square-foot stage, touted as the largest in North America.
The new owners group, including Comweb Corp., the City of Toronto Economic Development Corp., ROI Capital and Castlepoint Realty Partners, will be chaired by Comweb CEO Paul Bronfman. Edith Myers has been named Pinewood Toronto managing director.
Toronto’s status as a major North American production center, its experienced 25,000-plus production workforce and the city’s port lands regeneration plan attracted Pinewood to the development, Pinewood chief Ivan Dunleavy said in a phone press conference.
“The model being promoted here converges media business around the studios, something that has served us well in the U.K. and we believe is an important part of the future success of the studios,” Dunleavy said.
Pinewood commercial director Nick Smith believes the new facility will need “a bit of time” to get established. He was reluctant to name any new bookings, although he said that discussions are going well.
“It’s not as if people are sitting ready to put their film into production just because the Pinewood name is on the door,” he said.
But the city’s production workers — many of whom have found themselves working out of province in recent months due to the lack of viable studio space in Toronto — are indeed hoping it will attract projects.
The Toronto studio has been a ghost town until very recently.
“Our role is to bring as much film and TV production as we can to Toronto,” Dunleavy said. “And in that sense, we are pleased whenever we see production coming to Toronto as it adds to the collective market.”