The British film studio behind the Bond films now controls the fate of Toronto’s struggling, state-of-the-art studio operation. Pinewood Shepperton has taken charge of sales and marketing of Filmport Studios.
Under the deal Filmport will be renamed Pinewood Toronto Studios and managed for the next five years by the British studio and new Pinewood managing director Edith Myers replaces Filmport president Ken Ferguson.
Pinewood Shepperton will earn fees based on the revenue performance of Pinewood Toronto Studios. The deal also results in new ownership, with the replacement of majority stakeholder Rose Corporation by ROI Capital.
The other owners include Comweb, the City of Toronto, Toronto Economic Development Corporation, and Castlepoint Realty.
Comweb chairman Paul Bronfman, also now board chair of Pinewood Toronto Studios, has said the deal “means the studio is on solid financial footing again” and has international managers “who are well known throughout the world.”
The studio is cautiously optimistic that it can bring a major film to the Toronto facility soon. “It’s no secret that we’ve been looking to expand the Pinewood name, and Toronto was an incredibly obvious choice for us,” Nick Smith, Pinewood’s commercial director, said.
Pinewood Shepperton’s entry into the Toronto market has caused concerns among local players, especially given that the city of Toronto will help bankroll Pinewood Toronto Studios as a minority investor.
Steve Mirkopoulos, president of Cinespace Film Studios, said he welcomes competition but has reservations. He said: “How is any studio supposed to compete when Filmport has had its operating expenses cut through taxpayer subsidies?
“The Toronto film business has so much to offer and Cinespace is baffled about why the city is trying to drive Canadian companies out of business.”
Pinewood Toronto Studios has seven newly built sound stages and is located on an 11-acre brown field site east of downtown Toronto.