Golden High, 007! Pinewood Studios, located in the county of Buckinghamshire in Britain, and the famous UK home to the 55-year old James Bond film franchise, has announced that, due to recent blockbusters such as the 24th James Bond movie Spectre and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, annual profits at the Pinewood Group have soared to a spectacular £13.6million.
The north London Studio, which is hoping to also accommodate Bond 25 when it begins production in either late 2017 or 2018, effectively put itself up for sale in February of this year after appointing Rothschild to conduct a strategic review, and the JBIFC understands that Chinese and American bidders have emerged as the front-runners in any possible sale of the Group. While the recent ‘Brexit’ vote has now slowed the potential sale of the Pinewood Group (the company that runs the studios, which includes Pinewood and Shepperton), the weaker post-Brexit pound means that international bidders for Pinewood and Shepperton Studios could actually get better value for their money, as the lower value of sterling has served to strengthen the Pinewood Group’s attraction to investors.
Indeed, one of the biggest challenges which the studio has faced in recent years has been the strength of the pound, which had discouraged some international film financiers. But, ironically, the decline in the sterling exchange rate post-Brexit is now good news for international investors.
The Pinewood Group has recently overcome local opposition to expand its studios at the Pinewood site and win more film production work, and it is due to open five new stages. Interestingly, the first movie to be filmed using these new expanded facilities will be Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, which will be produced by Bond co-producer Barbara Broccoli, and stars Jamie Bell and Julie Walters.
As the JBIFC has reported previously, strong supporters of the Pinewood expansion plan, including Skyfall and Spectre director Sam Mendes, see the new expanded studio as offering a major boost to general movie studio facilities in the UK. This will now be even more important in the post-Brexit climate, as studios in other countries are very keen to woo investment from filmmakers in a highly competitive international market.
Pinewood, of course, holds a special place in James Bond history, and houses the iconic Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage, plus other facilities named after composer John Barry and 007’s gadgets expert ‘Q’. The Bond production company, EON, also hold an office there. The company which owns Pinewood and Shepperton, together with additional TV studio facilities in London, is run by Lord Grade and Ivan Dunleavy. They first submitted ambitious expansion plans for Pinewood back in 2009. These included proposals for a mix of housing and ‘streetscapes’ that would double up as movie sets, but these were rejected by the local authorities. Another version of the expansion plan was also ruled against by central government in London in January, 2012.
The latest expansion plan put forward by Pinewood, and recently approved, will create many new jobs and it is estimated may add up to £150m a year to the UK economy. There are also considerable ‘knock-on’ effects and benefits from financial investment in the local economy when major Hollywood movies are shot at Pinewood, including the 007 films, which often make use of the local countryside areas around Pinewood for location filming purposes.
Did You Know?
One of the most famous set designers to work at Pinewood in the 1960s and 1970s was Sir Ken Adam (1921-2016). His contribution to the ‘look’ of the Bond series was legendary. For the secret volcano crater base in the fifth 007 movie, You Only Live Twice (1967), for example, Albert R. Broccoli handed Ken Adam $1m (a phenomenal sum at the time). The volcano set designed by the late Sir Ken, and constructed at Pinewood on the backlot, was 130 foot high and had a diameter of 440 foot! Local residents from miles around regularly came to the perimeter fence of the Studios just to catch a view of the massive Bond set.