×

‘Star Wars’ Deal Marks Latest Coup for the U.K.

Pinewood also extends its brand around the globe

While Hollywood continues to feel withdrawal pains from the production exodus, the U.K. is thriving, thanks to a mix of tax incentives and high-quality crews.

Pinewood Shepperton and Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden have been working full bore during the past few months, housing Kenneth Branagh’s “Cinderella,” Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and WB-Village Roadshow’s “Edge of Tomorrow” (aka “All You Need Is Kill”). J.J. Abrams’ “Star Wars” pic is skedded for Pinewood in January.

Blighty’s tax credit of 25% of qualifying production expenses for films that spend up to £20 million ($31 million), and 20% for films that spend over that total was recently added to the TV and animation sectors. There are rumblings that a standalone VFX incentive may be in the works as well, as Soho is flush with top pros and looking for post-“Harry Potter” biz.

“When you factor that you don’t have to bring in crews, because U.K. crews are amongst the best in the world, and you’ve got an incentive that fully covers above the line, it makes the U.K. probably one of the cheapest places in the world to shoot,” says Pinewood exec VP Andy Weltman.

SEE ALSO: Where in the World Will the New ‘Star Wars’ Films Shoot?

Pinewood has a long and impressive history in the U.K., having been home to everything from James Bond films to the “Carry On” comedies. While its imprint is firmly in British soil, the ever-expanding studio facility is increasing its global footprint.

Aside from facilities in Canada, Germany, Dominican Republic and the U.S. it opened a studio in Malaysia earlier this year.

The studio worked closely with the Malaysian government to help structure the country’s impressive 30% tax credit.

“We had an opportunity to get into a marketplace that’s underutilized, and therefore be able to attract productions in southeast Asia that we wouldn’t get in the U.K.,” Weltman says.

He adds that the kinds of shoots it looks to attract to the country include U.S. films that are looking for a southeast Asian location, and productions from India, China and Australia.

“There aren’t the same censorship rules (in Malaysia) as there are in China,” according to Weltman. “And this opens Pinewood up to the other side of the world.”

Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia boasts 100,000 square feet of film stages, 24,000 square feet of TV studios and postproduction facilities.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Homecoming

    Peak Storytelling Here as Podcasts, Short Form Ride New Wave

    The concept of peak TV is nothing new. But scratch the surface of original content these days, and it’s no longer about television — from podcasts and short-form video, storytelling itself is at a peak. Thanks to audio, video and other new platform companies including Gimlet, Quibi, Wondery, iHeartMedia and Serial Box, listeners and viewers [...]

  • Patti Smith Cambridge Folk Festival

    Patti Smith Muses Over the Many Ways to Tell a Story

    It’s Sept. 11, and Patti Smith has been thinking a lot about people who died. This is understandable. It is, of course, the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and an annual time of mourning for New York City, the city that Smith adopted as her hometown 50-plus years [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Snoop Dogg Weed

    In the Cannabis Business, Not All Star Strains Are Created Equal

    With the cannabis green rush in full swing, many celebrities are jumping into the fray with their own brands, including such well-known stoners as Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and Tommy Chong. But as it turns out, not all star strains are created equal, so we assembled a trio of crack experts to put the product [...]

  • Richard Branson Jason Felts

    Kaaboo Festival Acquired by Virgin Fest Owner Jason Felts

    Kaaboo, which says it has “shifted the music festival paradigm by offering a highly amenitized festival experience for adults,” is now under new ownership. Virgin Fest founder and CEO Jason Felts (pictured above with Virgin founder Richard Branson) has fully acquired all of the festival brand assets through an affiliate of Virgin Fest, the music [...]

  • Live Nation Chief Michael Rapino Talks

    Live Nation-Ticketmaster Chief Michael Rapino Talks Dept. of Justice Inquiries

    Back in August, Senators Richard Blumenthal of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota made the most recent of several requests for an Department of Justice antitrust investigation into competition in the ticketing industry, and it soon became clear that the target of the probe was Live Nation and its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster, which [...]

  • Lowell Smokes Cafe Marijuana

    With Cannabis Lounges, On-Site Consumption, Marijuana-Infused Meals Go Legit

    Can this century’s Roaring ’20s repeat history but with pre-rolled joints instead of whiskey flasks and soccer moms as the new flappers? This month, West Hollywood will see the opening of the nation’s first at least quasi-legal cannabis consumption lounge, officially dubbed Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Café, located at 1211 N. La Brea between Fountain [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content