S~iVival instinct Pinewood Shepperton chief lvan Dunleavy has a tough year ahead after a big-budget production chose to quit the UK. But he points to the studios' diversification plans long as Bond 21 stans shooting this year, it is a fair betthat Pinewood Sheppenon chief xecutive Ivan Dunleavy would be happy even if narney the purple dinosaur played the super spy. The loss of Paramount's 'l7ie'Watchmen last week was a grim lesson in economics for the UK's studio faciUti~s. Uoyd Levin, who is producing the $120m superhero saga, cited cost fonhe production's expected d~ision to quit the UK, maybe for Eastern Europe. The move means Pinewood Sheppenon will miss out on $4.lm (£2.2m) in revenues, even though it expects Paramount to honour the contract for film stage hire. The share price of the UI('s leading studio player sluQl~ lqst week on the news. Having posted a surge in Profi~ last year! Pinewood Sheppenon has ~l~dy warned tha,t this year is going to ~ tqugh, Odier than l\ potential BOnd film. which traditionally shoots at Pinewood, Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addktion is the only large-scale production known to be heading to the stu4io, though Dunleavyrefuses to reveal specific films. WiUthis yeqr, blight~ by a weak dollat ;!Od lJncertainty>ov~r t~x suppon, be ~ bad as 2001, ~hen Hollywood pr~uctions worldwid~ ground to a halt due to the threatened actors' strike?
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studios' ambitious 'refurbishment,and expansion plans" 'such as its 'n~w underwater stage. For Dunleavy, diver'sity is gQi_J.lg to b1: k~y. "What is relevant to me is that our' long-term plan is fou~ded on groWing revenues in all activities," he says. Along with expanding its film facilities, the studio group this month rqade its first acquisition since qoat'ing, buying TV fa~i1ity Teddington Studios for $5tn. "Our long~term strategy is not j\lst to grow revenues in all business are~s but to d~vetsify revenues," s~ys D~nleavy.
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Teddington was in administration after a $4.7m loss in contract revenue, but if its business can be stl!bilised, its diet of hit TV shows such as The Office and Men Behaving Badly has historicallyyielded revenues of around $15m per year. That would be a significant boost· to Pinewood Sheppert0o's annual turnover cif around $71m. Despite the loss of tax ihcentj,ves being cited as one reason for Th~ Walfhmen's withdrawal,- DunlCj1VY denic:s there is uncenainty over S~~n 42, ~he UK:s tax incel1tive for largerscale films. He has 'a point: the ~han cellor has ·~tated that ~on 42 will be replaced, lJnd not~rapped ~s ·some bad feared. But how its replacement will work, when it will stan anc;l what it will be wonh remain mysteries'the Wl!tchmen themselves would be hard pushed to solve. .l\nd with the general election -set for May 5, little is like1r to change in
the coming weeks-.
Election'time, however, is no(the time to critici$e a government that nas been generous in its tax-based suppon of the film business. "The Government and the Chancellor have been specific over their suppon for film!" says Dunleavy. "How it will evolve is something we've yet to see, but there is a very clear structure." In the meantime, Dunleavy and the rest of the UK's studios and post-production houses are banking on the dollar being weak everywhere, not just in the UK, and the UIrs reputation for handling large-scllle productions, 'Th~ dedsion-maJdng pJO<;ess for our c.;lients is very cQmplicated, and informed by many factors, not just fiscal policy," Dunleavy says. 'The OK has a reputation for its ability to service all kinds of film-making, and for doing so with gteater breadth and depth than any international competitors. One should never underestimate our skills and efficiency.:
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'~~"'§'~" n - ... U~"""'~'a::::::;,:...J EI~on time, however, is not the cal4.7m los;::n:r:centf&et re.ernre,") time to criticise ent that has bee erous in its tax-base pport oft mDU. ~ .. e 0 nt and the Chancel-c:r:"" L lor have been specific over their sup- I~' port for film." says Dunleavy. "How it will evolve is something we've yet to see, but there is a very clear structure." In the meantime. Dunleavy and the rest of the UK's studios and post-production houses are banking~o!!.n.uu::.IoW_-\ lar being wea ere, not just in Q/'o-. th , and the UK's reputation for ..J-t ~£j~~Heh;iae2!nt:iIii~~;:"- andling large-scale producti9 ns. .I "The decision-making process for -.J our clients is very complicated. and informed by many factors, not just fiscal policy," Dunleavy says. "The UK has a reputation for its abiliry to service all kinds of film-making. and for doing so with greater breadth and depth than any international competitors. One should never underestimate our skills
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