James Bond and Star Wars pump up Pinewood's profits

The film industry hasn't lost its lustre just yet, but the rise of high-end TV productions will be food for thought for Pinewood Studios.

by Rebecca Smith
Last Updated: 12 Jan 2016

We keep hearing about the imminent demise of the film industry, but Europe’s largest studio is holding firm, reporting blockbuster profits for the six months up to September 2015.

Pinewood Studios was boosted by the production of two of the year’s big budget flicks - the Daniel Craig-fronted Spectre and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. The James Bond film was the largest production filmed at the company’s Pinewood Studios and its Shepperton site was home to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, due for release in 2017. The group’s operating profits for the six months to the end of September rose 186.9% to £7m, though revenues did dip 0.7% to £38.2m. 

'The first six months of the year have maintained the positive momentum reported in our full year results in June 2015,' said the group’s chief executive Ivan Dunleavy. ‘Productions based at the studios during the period include the year’s biggest films Spectre and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.’

The latter had an estimated budget of $200m (£133m), rising to $423m including marketing, printing and advertising costs, and with recent predictions suggesting the latest Star Wars film could surpass Jurassic World with a record worldwide opening ($524.1m in June 2015), it’s fair to say the force is still with the long-running space series.

Pinewood is also looking ahead for ways to better compete with American studios. The first phase of the Buckinghamshire site’s expansion due to be completed by June 2016, in hope of attracting more Hollywood epics to shoot on its site. The Pinewood Studios Development Framework (PSDF) will add 100,000 sq m of new facilities, including 12 large stages, workshops and a production office, which will effectively double its size.

As the battle between traditional and online TV rage on, Pinewood noted the newer pay-on-demand platforms continue ‘the drive to create high-end television productions’, drawn to film in Britain thanks to the UK High-End TV tax relief. 

Pinewood though, hasn’t accommodated any high-end television productions at its Pinewood or Shepperton sites for this six month period, saying both were focused on film activity instead.
But its TV revenues for the period were up to £1.9m from £1.7m for the equivalent period in 2014, so while a a lack of diversification hasn’t been a short-term problem it may be something to consider in future months.

As two relatively new (albeit heavyweight) TV entrants, Amazon and Netflix, continue to battle it out in their efforts to win the streaming race, Pinewood may yet decide that securing its longer-term status could be given a significant boost by turning its attentions to high-end TV productions as well as big-budget films.

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