Along with Malaysia, the Pinewood family now includes the flagship South Buckinghamshire location, nearby Shepperton Studios, and outlets in the Dominican Republic, Toronto, Berlin and Atlanta — where Marvel’s Ant Man is colonizing. The group is also advising Wanda Dalian on a new film and TV studio complex, Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis, which is expected to open in 2016.
One of Iskandar’s backers is the sovereign wealth fund of Malaysia and its major focus is to attract productions from around the world. With the growing need for TV stages, Iskandar has smartly built two high-end TV studios into the facility. Set on 50 acres, the integrated studio currently offers 100,000 square feet of film stages, 24,000 square feet of television studios, post production facilities and complete support services, including production office space, dressing/make-up rooms, workshops and backlots.
There is still the ever present space crunch in the UK where studios are full to bursting – Pinewood is currently hosting the daddy of all upcoming productions,Star Wars Episode VII, and is awaiting Bond 24 – but the offshore outlets are not seen as substitutes. Still, if the Malaysian incentive is “more meaningful” for producers, it is an option. There’s also the knowledge that they’ll have the back office and technological backbone of Pinewood and the quality that we’re renowned for,” says Dunleavy.
At the home studio, Pinewood is awaiting an answer on its appeal for planning permission to expand. That’s expected by July 14. Where else they might expand overseas is a matter to study, but Dunleavy says “Incentives are very important and a key part of the competitive equation. But this is a capital intensive business and you’ve got to think about the long term… Permanency of incentives would be key for us.” Wherever they go next, Dunleavy believes, “Pinewood’s name above the door guarantees you’re going to get this done.”