Firm to add expanded studio, ancillary services

Blighty’s Pinewood Shepperton Studios is ramping up support for smaller-budget Brit pics, and has pledged to invest up to 20% equity in up to four films a year.

It will target projects budgeted around £2 million ($3.2 million), which will be chosen by industry partners on its behalf.

Pics will benefit from access to shoot at Pinewood and Shepperton studios, while the company will gain from an expected take-up of ancillary services at the studios.

Pinewood chief exec Ivan Dunleavy said he was delighted Pinewood was returning to its heritage in British film production.

“Although our financial commitment to each film will be relatively small, we can offer access to world-class facilities and production expertise at Pinewood and Shepperton Studios, which would normally be beyond their budget,” he said.

Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport said: “As the recent success of ‘The King’s Speech’ demonstrates, smaller British films have the potential to become smash hits globally and any support that the industry can offer producers, we welcome.”

The news came as Pinewood Shepperton unveiled revenues for 2010 up 8% on 2009 to $70 million.

The boost comes after a slew of major U.S. pics shot at the studio, including Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” Marvel’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” and GK Films’ “Hugo Cabret,” helmed by Martin Scorsese.

Operating profit increased 20% to $14.7 million, while profit before tax increased 31% to $9.4 million.

The company also announced it aims to build an $8.2 million, 30,000-sq.-ft stage at Pinewood, subject to planning consent. This would increase stage capacity by 7%.

Last month, Variety revealed that Pinewood Studios Group is joining forces with Indomina Group to launch a studio in the Dominican Republic. It already has facilities in Germany, Canada and Malaysia. In January, Pinewood set up a sales office in Culver City, Calif., that will coordinate sales for its international ventures.

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