This is a surprising result given it’s the second time the UK’s venerable Pinewood has had an expansion project thwarted – and despite the increased interest of major U.S. studios to shoot there. The studio, which is home to the 007 set built in honor of the James Bond films that have been filmed there and which houses many major Hollywood pictures, first applied for permission to expand back in 2009 and was refused in early 2012 because it was eyeing protected land. The studio owns the land, but failed to satisfy the Buckinghamshire Council’s requirement of “special circumstances” to proceed. Today, the council refused a more recent modified application for an increase in capacity. Earlier this week it was reported that Hollywood studios, including Disney, Marvel, 20th Century Fox and Universal, had written to the decision makers urging approval. READ MORE »
Sam Mendes’ psychosexual horror series for Showtime, Penny Dreadful, will be among the first U.S. TV dramas to benefit from the UK’s newly-approved TV tax relief for high-end productions. Legislation for a 25% tax credit for TV series costing at least £1M per hour to produce — plus animated programs and video games — has been given the state-aid greenlight by Brussels, clearing the last major hurdle before coming into effect April 1. Largely based on Britain’s Film Tax Relief scheme, which has provided about £800M in rebates to more than 800 movies since 2007, the new law requires productions meet a British cultural test. Co-productions made under an internationally recognized treaty may also be eligible, and it’s believed the new regs could inject about $570M into the local industry. But there are concerns that the potential £200M in relief available by 2018 could be gobbled up by U.S. productions that employ British talent on UK shores.
When first announced in March last year, the relief was considered an effort to stem runaway production. Shows like BBC Two drama Parade’s End and the Julian Fellowes miniseries Titanic, were made abroad. Downton Abbey is among the rare exceptions of big-ticket UK shows that have been produced at home, and I’m told it will now look to benefit from the break. But the scheme is also a means to encourage foreign shows to come to the UK. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne consulted both Disney and HBO to lay out the strategy.
A year after its Project Pinewood development was rejected by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Pinewood Studios has submitted a new planning application for an expansion project valued at £200M ($317M). The Pinewood Studios Development Framework proposal is expected to be spread over 15 years and would essentially double the studio in size with 100,000 square meters of new studios, stages, workshops and production offices along with new streetscapes for external filming and other improvements. Pinewood’s Mark Hamilton tells me, “The UK has capacity issues and everyone is having difficulty fitting in everything that wants to come here… We don’t want to be in a position where we’re turning business away.” Hamilton says a team from Pinewood met and with physical production folk at the U.S. majors to discuss their needs which helped to inform the new proposal. In the past year, Pinewood has played host to such films as Les Misérables, Skyfall, Disney’s Maleficent and Paramount’s Jack Ryan, which just wrapped.
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage:
Pinewood unveiled cutting-edge upgrades to its TV One and Two stages today as it reiterated a commitment to investing in and expanding its facilities. The studio, recently home to features Skyfall, Les Miserables and Maleficent, is keen on TV as a proposed 25% tax break on high-end television production is expected to go into effect in April. The incentive could inject about $570M into the industry. Pinewood corporate affairs director Andrew Smith tells Deadline, “The demand for content is clearly growing globally, and we’re investing in both infrastructure and facilities to respond.” Part of the response is to submit a new application to double the size of the studio.
British Prime Minister David Cameron will visit Pinewood studios today where he is expected to urge filmmakers to ramp up efforts to rival Hollywood by making more “commercially successful pictures.” Cameron’s visit comes just ahead of next week’s release of the findings of a government film policy review overseen by former culture secretary Chris Smith with input from such folk as Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes. According to Cameron’s official website, the review is expected to suggest the UK’s Lottery funding scheme be rebalanced to support more mainstream films with commercial potential as well as culturally rewarding films. The news is likely to upset the independent film community, with director Ken Loach already appearing on the BBC today to say: “If you knew what was going to be successful before you made it then we’d all be millionaires. It doesn’t work like that. Public money should go to fund a wide variety of projects and people.” The review is further expected to propose that the British Film Institute reinvest returns into film companies with the most box office success.
Solid First Half For UK’s Pinewood Shepperton Studios
Revenues are up 68% over the first half of the 2011 according to interim results released today, from $27M to $42M over the same period a year ago. The largest film production based at Pinewood Studios during the period was Dark Shadows (Warner Bros), and the largest production based at Shepperton Studios was Wrath of the Titans (WB). Other films that used Pinewood Shepperton facilities included The Iron Lady (DJ Films/Pathé), Gravity (WB), Woman in Black (Hammer Films), 47 Ronin (Universal) and Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (Fox). Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman has just begun shooting at Pinewood. The surge in film business offset a drop in TV revenues from $8.3M last year to $7.6M, which the studio attributed to using more space on movie productions.
Off-Track Bond 23 May Exit India For South Africa
Unhappy that permission to shut down portions of two railways outside Mumbai still has not been granted, Take One Productions is threatening to move production of Bond 23 from India to South Africa. Originally scheduled to shoot in the fall, the Sam Mendes-directed project starring Daniel Craig is now pointing for a January start. “South African authorities are waiting to provide everything that is required to support this movie,” said Take One’s Pravesh Sahni. “If we can’t get this cooperation from India, the film will no longer be shot here.” The railroad scenes will be a major part of the film, Sahni told The Times of India.