Sites on the future

Over years, Pinewood has been extending its brand with facils around world

Pinewood-Shepperton studios has certainly not been shy of headlines of late.

On April 27, the iconic British studio agreed to an improved £96 million ($159 million) takeover offer from major shareholder and property infrastructure investment company Peel Holdings. The increased offer came shortly after Egyptian-born businessman Mohamed Al Fayed, the former owner of London department store Harrods, dislcosed he was considering a cash bid for the studio.

The sweetened deal is certainly a reflection that bizzers see value in the studio that housed franchises such as “James Bond” and “Harry Potter.” But while headlines have been focusing on the internal activities of Pinewood, the studio has been pursuing an aggressive global strategy.

Pinewood merged with Blighty’s Shepperton studios in 2001 and then acquired Teddington Studios in 2005, thus leaving a firm footprint around London.

Lately Pinewood has been stamping that footprint to territories far and wide. In 2008, the studio expanded into Canada and sealed a comprehensive sales and marketing deal for Toronto’s biggest studio, FilmPort, which was rebranded Pinewood Toronto Studios.

The following year, the studio pacted with Malaysia’s government to set up a studio in the country that is expected to be open for business Jan. 1, 2013.

It stretched its European tentacle to Berlin in 2010 where it formed a joint venture with Studio Hamburg, dubbed Pinewood Studios Berlin Film Services, to ensure more international feature film production in the territory.

And earlier this year the studio joined forces with shingle Indomina Group to launch a studio facility in the Dominican Republic that will initially comprise 5,000 square meters (53,800 square feet) of soundstage space, along with 161,460 square feet of associated production support facilities — plus an eight-acre water-effects facility with an exterior water tank.

The studio even pacted with the National Congress of the Dominican Republic to pass a bill that will provide up to 25% tax credit for feature pics and TV programs, above and below the line.

“We’re always looking for unique and different opportunities,” says Pinewood commercial director Nick Smith. “But we don’t believe in just building something and putting our name above the door. We do think about strategically where to move.”

Smith says as soon as the Toronto facilities were ready, TV customers came on board quickly and the group realized it “had to have a global footprint.”

“We have to be where the majority business is,” he says. “And it’s an international business now. We have a brand that everybody recognizes.

“We’re looking to build upon that,” he adds. “No longer can we just talk about film and television, it’s about film and television and games. It’s about people creating content.”

Spotlight: Pinewood at 75
Sites on the future | From Liz to Bond and beyond | The lay of the land

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