The UK studio group will invest equity in up to four British films a year; separately, annual results reveal increase in revenues in 2010.

Pinewood Shepperton is promising to invest up to 20 % equity in up to four British films per year which have production budgets of around $3.2m (£2m) each. The chosen projects will also be given access to shoot at Pinewood and Shepperton studios.  

Pinewood’s commercial director Nick Smith told Screen that the move was partly down to the fact that the US studio films are filling the larger stages, leaving the smaller stages free.

“A lot of the tentpole productions seem to just want the larger spaces we have, and we are finding increasingly that we’ve got a couple of small stages that don’t have as much demand so it seems like a natural progression to get into this area.”

He revealed that it was also influenced by factors including the demise of the UKFC and the global success of low budget British film The King’s Speech adding: “We hope that we back another King’s Speech.”

The selection process will be “fairly flexible”, with a team of industry partners helping to pick potential projects for investment. “Various factors will come to the fore, including who is attached to it, whether there is any financing attached, whether we have short term capacity,” said Smith.

The announcement came as Pinewood Shepperton today revealed its revenues for 2010 had increased by 8% on 2009, from $65m (£40.3m) to $70m (£43.4m), thanks to an influx of US studio films shooting at the studios in 2010, including Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Marvel’s Captain America: The First Avenger.

Operating profit has increased by 20%, from $12m (£7.6m) in 2009 to $15m (£9.1m) in 2010, whilst profit before tax went up by 31% from $7m (£4.5m) in 2009 to $9m (£5.8m) in 2010.

Film revenues for 2010 were $47m (£29.1m), up 28% from $37m (£22.6m) in 2009. In the second half of 2010 film generated revenues of $29m (£18.2m), up from $17m (£10.8m) in 2009. However TV revenues were down in 2010 to $13m (£8.2m) from $18m (£11.3m) in 2009, impacted by “ITV and BBC deciding to direct their productions to their own in-house studio facilities,” according to the studio group.

Pinewood has also revealed plans to build another 30,000 sq ft stage suitable for both film and television, at a cost of $8m (£5.1m), in response to the fact that its studios were almost at full capacity for the second half of 2010. Completion is expected by mid-2012.

Despite its ongoing international expansion strategy, the studio group’s international revenues only rose very slightly from $0.8m (£0.5m) in 2009 to $0.9m (£0.6m) in 2010, although the studio group said this was “in line with the Company’s expectations.”

Pinewood announced last month that it was to build a new studio in the Dominican Republic, in partnership with US outfit Indomina Group.

In response to the news that Pinewood was to invest in smaller British films, secretary of state for culture, Jeremy Hunt said: “Smaller British films have the potential to become smash hits globally and any support that the industry can offer producers, we welcome.”