Joint venture with Seven Stars Media to include skills academy and Chinese co-productions.

Pinewood Shepperton has entered into a joint venture with Bruno Wu’s Seven Stars Media, which will include Chinese co-productions, skills academies and new local “entertainment venues”.

The new venture – called Song Lin, which means Pine Forest in Mandarin – plans to finance and produce films in China and create up to eight film and TV skills academies which will be linked to UK film and TV establishments.

Co-productions are not subject to China’s strict quota policy on film imports.

The joint venture is also due to develop a series of “film themed entertainment venues” in Shanghai and “film themed projects” in Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan.

ScreenDaily understands that the initial commitment from Wu and Pinewood is $1m each for initial research and development.

The Chinese film and television market was worth $3.6bn in 2012 and is forecast to double to $7.3bn by 2016, which would make it the third-largest filmed entertainment market in the world, according to PwC.

The announcement marks the latest expansion for the rapidly growing Pinewood Group, which operates studios in UK, Canada, Germany, Malaysia and Dominican Republic and is growing its own production ambitions with Pinewood Productions and the management of the Isle of Man’s £25m film fund.  

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said of the announcement: “It’s great to see Pinewood Studios expanding its business with the announcement of its joint venture with Seven Stars Media.

“The creative industries are a rapidly growing area of China’s economy and will increasingly provide huge opportunities for UK companies competing in the global race.  Pinewood is leading the way, taking advantage of China’s thriving entertainment and media sector and building on Britain and China’s growing trade relationship.”

Ivan Dunleavy, Pinewood CEO, commented: “The Chinese market for content is the fastest growing in the world and taking Pinewood’s experience and skills to that market in partnership with such an established and successful local partner is a truly exciting prospect.

“The joint venture brings together two companies with significant experience and will provide a conduit for film and television productions to maximise their impact in China. 

“The partnership with Seven Stars, under Bruno Wu’s direction, represents a strategic step forward for Pinewood’s international development. If successful, the joint venture could provide significant opportunities for UK film and television producers.”

Bruno Wu, Seven Stars chairman and CEO, added: “Together with Pinewood, we have identified a significant number of business opportunities for the short, medium and long term.

“The joint venture will aim to improve the standard of media production, create co-production opportunities for Chinese producers and export Chinese film and television content overseas. Our local knowledge and scale combined with Pinewood’s unique operational skills and international reputation will enable our joint venture to participate in China’s content explosion.”