×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Soundstages Extend Their Brands on Global Scale

Pinewood, Raleigh fan out to far-flung locations as way to boost business

In June 2009, Pinewood Studios Group signed a five-year deal to handle management, sales and marketing for recently opened Filmport Studios in Toronto, which then became known as Pinewood Toronto Studios.

The arrangement not only reversed the fortunes of the struggling Canuck facility, which has gone on to host a slew of major features, including the upcoming “Pacific Rim”; it also opened up a major new business for Pinewood.

The company, which owns and operates the U.K.’s two oldest, largest and most prestigious studio complexes, Pinewood and Shepperton, had watched on the sidelines in the 2000s as vendors and clients dispersed around the globe, chasing the latest production incentives.

“We realized we had a brand that filmmakers took great comfort in,” says Nick Smith, Pinewood’s commercial director, who oversees the international studios. “It soon became obvious through our research that if you took that brand and put it on a set of boxes (i.e., soundstages) somewhere else in the world, you’d gain great traction.”

In the intervening four years, Pinewood has applied the model to another pre-existing studio — in Berlin — as well as to new facilities in Malaysia, the Dominican Republic and Atlanta.
Compared to Pinewood, EUE/Screen Gems is a small, family-owned operation, with just three studios: New York; Wilmington, N.C.; and Atlanta. That’s key to how it markets its brand.

“What sets us apart is we’re private,” says chief operating officer and co-owner Chris Cooney. “We’re able to make a decision to invest in enhancements for the clients quickly,” as it did when the company installed a custom IT infrastructure for Iron Man 3, which shot for a year at the North Carolina studio.

Raleigh Studios, Hollywood’s oldest independent studio facility, has also set up franchises in multiple locales — Playa Vista, Calif.; Baton Rouge, La.; Atlanta; Budapest; and Wuxi, China — but management says the potential for further expansion is very limited.

Raleigh Enterprises prexy Mark Rosenthal brings that point home, saying that business is hard to predict, “particularly if it’s based upon potentially transitory demand generators, i.e., government production incentives.”

That lesson was underlined by Raleigh’s experience with Raleigh Michigan Studios. When the state’s incentives were rolled back in 2011, business dropped off dramatically, leading investors to default on the loan and Raleigh to prematurely end its deal with the studio.

Raleigh owns its Hollywood facility and is a minority investor in its Budapest studio, but with its other locations it merely provides its name and management and marketing expertise in exchange for a piece of the profits.

But regardless of the size of the actual cash outlay, the investment is big.
“We have a vested interest in making sure that the brand reputation stays intact,” Pinewood’s Smith says.

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor Targets Sept. 27 for Stock Debut, IPO Video Tells Company's Origin Story

    After years of preparation, Endeavor is set to make its formal Wall Street debut on Sept. 27, when its stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Endeavor has targeted Sept. 26 for the final pricing of its shares. The stock will trade publicly the following day. Earlier this week, Endeavor said its [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Charlie Rose Sexual Harassment

    Charlie Rose Sued for Sexual Harassment by Longtime Makeup Artist

    A makeup artist who worked for Charlie Rose for 22 years has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit, accusing the former CBS and PBS host of years of unlawful behavior toward female employees. Gina Riggi alleges that Rose was verbally abusive with her and would often make derogatory comments about her weight. She also alleges that [...]

  • Rob Stringer

    Sony Music Chief Rob Stringer on Sustaining Growth and Recovering From the 'Dark Times'

    The Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, now in its 28th year, gives top executives at major companies the opportunity to make their case to investors — and the Goldman analysts the opportunity to keep things on the up and up. While the analysts don’t necessarily grill the executives, they don’t lob softball questions either. That was [...]

  • Frank Grillo'Avengers: Endgame' Film Premiere, Arrivals,

    Matt Phelps Tapped as President of Joe Carnahan, Frank Grillo's Warparty

    Frank Grillo and Joe Carnahan’s Warparty productikon banner has appointed Matt Phelps president of the company. Phelps will head the Los Angeles office and be responsible for overseeing all film and television projects. “We searched long and hard to find the right fit for Warparty and felt that Matt embodied everything that we were looking [...]

  • Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent,

    Jack Gilardi, Longtime ICM Partners Agent, Dies at 88

    Jack Gilardi, a longtime ICM Partners agent who represented such stars as Burt Reynolds, Sylvester Stallone, Jerry Lewis, Charlton Heston and Shirley MacLaine, died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 88. Gilardi was known for his gentlemanly style, love of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his skill at representing top actors. He [...]

  • Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton

    Nexstar Completes Tribune Acquisition, Sean Compton to Head Programming

    Nexstar Media Group has become the nation’s largest owner of TV stations after completing its $4.1 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The deal creates a broadcasting colossus with more than 200 stations serving more than 100 markets, although a number of stations will be divested to keep Nexstar in compliance with FCC ownership limits. Nexstar, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content