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.
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.