LONDON/ATLANTA, April 29 British film studio
Pinewood Shepperton, home of the James Bond movies,
plans to build its first movie, television and music studio in
the United States, part of an international expansion strategy
launched in 2009.
The owner of Europe's largest film studio, Pinewood said on
Monday it would develop 288 acres of land south of Atlanta,
Georgia, for a studio facility in a joint venture with River's
Rock LLC, an independently managed trust of the Cathy family.
The Cathy family owns the Atlanta-based fried chicken chain
Chick-fil-A. It is believed to be their first significant media
investment, but no one from Chick-fil-A was available for
Atlanta-area lawyer Douglas Warner, attorney for River's
Rock, declined to comment.
Attracting Pinewood is the latest victory for Georgia as it
builds itself into a major U.S. production destination. Figures
shows that 333 productions were shot in the state last year,
boosting public coffers by $3.1 billion, with recent films
including "Flight", "X-Men: First Class", and "Fast Five".
Filmmaker and television producer Tyler Perry has a studio
in Atlanta, and the popular zombie-themed AMC cable network
series "The Walking Dead" is filmed in the southern U.S. state.
Pinewood already owns studios in Canada and Germany and is
building facilities in Malaysia and the Dominican Republic.
Earlier this month the studio signed a joint venture with
Chinese media group Seven Stars, run by media entrepreneur Bruno
Wu, to expand its production services into China.
"Georgia has excellent fiscal incentives and a great crew
base," Pinewood CEO Ivan Dunleavy said in a statement. "With
River's Rock we have a well-resourced partner that is committed
to building a first-class studio facility."
Producers can qualify for state income tax credits of up to
30 percent for certain production expenses, according to the
Georgia film office.
Under the deal, the land and studio construction costs will
be funded by equity from River's Rock and a debt facility from
Synovus Bank, with building to begin immediately.
Pinewood will provide the sales and marketing services and
own 40 percent of the joint venture that will operate under the
Pinewood trademark and be called Pinewood Atlanta.
The Pinewood studio, based outside of London, has been
dubbed the home of James Bond with most of the 23 films
featuring British spy 007 shot there over the past half century,
including last year's box office hit "Skyfall".
Recent films shot at Pinewood include "Jack Ryan" starring
Kevin Costner and Chris Pine, and Angelina Jolie's new film
"Maleficent". Whether Pinewood might shoot future James Bond
films in Georgia was not known.