Pinewood builds studio in Dominican Republic

New site includes water effects facility

EXCLUSIVE: LONDON — Pinewood Studios Group, which operates Pinewood, Shepperton and Teddington Studios in Blighty, has joined forces with Indomina Group to launch a new studio facility in the Dominican Republic.

Construction of the studios, dubbed Pinewood Indomina Studios, starts Feb. 23 with a ground-breaking ceremony by the prexy of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Antonio Fernandez Reyna.

In a significant show of support for the new studio, the National Congress of the Dominican Republic has passed into law a new bill that will provide up to 25% tax credit for feature pics and TV programs, above and below the line.

The film and television production facilities, which will be located in the beach town of Juan Dolio on the Domincan Republic’s southern coast, will initially comprise of 5,000 sq m (53,800 sq ft) of soundstage space along with 15,000 sq m (161,460 sq ft) of associated production support facilities.

The 35-acre site will house an 8-acre water effects facility including a 75m x 75m (246 ft x 246 ft) exterior water tank with natural ocean horizons, blue screen capabilities and a fully equipped diving and marine department.

The studios are expected to commence initial operations in the first quarter of 2012.

The new venture, which will see Pinewood receive annual fees for its sales and management services and is believed to cost anywhere from $30 million to $50 million (the venture is in the process of construction tender at present), comes as part of Pinewood’s mission to develop the company’s international strategy and extend its brand to other countries, which already include Germany, Canada and Malaysia.

Last month, Pinewood set up a sales office in Culver City, California, which will coordinate sales for its international ventures.

Speaking to Variety, Pinewood Studios Group commercial director Nick Smith and Indomina Group co-chairman and CEO Jasbinder Singh Mann said the new venture aims to service the growing Caribbean, Southern and Central American markets as well as Hollywood and the rest of the world.

“We’re hoping Hollywood will come to the studios just by looking at the films that are currently going to Puerto Rico, with which we’re competing,” said Nick Smith, commercial director of Pinewood Studios Group. “The Dominican Republic will have a 25% tax credit, which applies above and below the line and is generous for any country. It is designed that way to put them on the map.”

Singh Mann added: “What we wanted to do was create a sustainable business but also something that had local significance. It’s quite a remarkable country with diverse typography and is visually incredible and culturally enriching. Plus, it’s strategically in the heart of the Americas.”

Pinewood and Indomina have been in discussions to set up the studios for a few years and both were actively involved in discussions for a tax credit offering for the country.