Pinewood to invest in British film industry

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The Independent Online

The film studio Pinewood Shepperton hopes to grab a share of the profits of successful British movies, such as The King's Speech, by investing in small budget British films.

Pinewood, where the James Bond and Harry Potter films are shot, said it plans to invest as much as a 20 per cent stake in up to four films a year with production budgets of about £2m.

It is the first time that Pinewood has planned this type of investment since it was making the Carry On films in the 1970s. Ivan Dunleavy, its chief executive, said that while it "did not rush into these types of initiative", The King's Speech had been the latest in a long line of hit British films, citing other successes including Slum Dog Millionaire. The King's Speech only cost £9m to produce and has so far taken more than £150m at box offices globally.

In addition to benefiting from the "upside" of films that succeed, Pinewood's investment in small productions – which would have access to its UK studios – would help it fill gaps in its schedule. Mr Dunleavy said: "We will be supporting young talent and hopefully that talent will go on to become the big film makers of the future."

For the year to 31 December, Pinewood posted a 31 per cent uplift in pre-tax profits to £5.8m, on revenues up 8 per cent to £43.4m. While its TV division benefited from programmes such as ITV's Dancing on Ice, its revenues fell to £8.2m from £11.3m after ITV and the BBC switched some productions in-house.

Meanwhile, Pinewood launched a robust defence of its chairman, Lord Grade, after Crystal Amber, which holds a 28 per cent stake in the group, again called for him to step down. Mr Dunleavy said: "Michael is very committed to Pinewood and he brings unique attributes to the role of chairman... Crystal Amber is a lone voice."