The publicly-quoted studio facility faces a renewed attack by shareholder Crystal Amber on Wednesday, when it announces its half-year results. Pinewood is expected to announce operating profits have fallen from last year’s £3.3 million ($5 million). Crystal Amber thinks that all the value of the company is locked up in its property portfolio. But Michael Grade, chairman of Pinewood Shepperton, insists Pinewood is a media company, not a property developer. Crystal Amber counters that the studio group hasn’t been paying its property assets enough attention. Stockbroker Investec has calculated that 82% of Pinewood’s value lies in its property assets, not studio operations. The group could make a lot of money selling off some of its portfolio.
Grade and his team are thinking about taking Pinewood Shepperton private again, says the Sunday Times. Crystal Amber has been quietly building up its shareholding to nearly 27% — just edging past second-biggest shareholder Peel Holdings. One idea might be to spin off Pinewood’s property management to a Peel executive, freeing up Grade and CEO Ivan Dunleavy to concentrate on running the studio. Hollywood movies shooting in Britain this summer include Disney’s Pirates Of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, X-Men: First Class – both at Pinewood – and Captain America, filming at Shepperton.
Pinewood shares floated at 180p back in 2004, but today are worth only 168p.
It used to be that UK producers could hope for 40% or more of the budget to come out of the States. These days US advances rarely go beyond the half-million dollar mark, says UK trade lobbyist BSAC.
And the value of what the rest-of-the-world is worth has halved, according to some, compared with what it was four years ago. No wonder lenders are increasingly just placing money on safe bets.
BSAC says that the number of British indie films produced each year has dropped from 139 seven years ago to 88 in 2009. Over the past two years, the credit crunch, combined with the severe contraction in the international pre-sales market, declining DVD revenue and flat TV licence fees, have choked off production.
Chris Curling of Zephyr Films, historically one of Britain’s most prolific producers (The Last Station), tells me he’s had to mothball one project post-Cannes because the numbers just didn’t add up.
Curling says: “The industry seems to have changed irrevocably and I’m not sure it’s coming back. I used to think this was just a temporary blip. It’s much harder to put projects together than it was four years’ ago.”
Simon Crowe, CEO of sales agent SC Films International, still thinks there’s a market for the right project at the right price. Producers have to be much more aware about knitting together soft money. He’s steering clear of period films and straight drama in favour of action thrillers though.
On the other hand, … Read More »