Looking to capitalize on the global demand for high-end drama coming out of the UK, which also benefits from a lucrative tax break, Pinewood Studios Group has set a joint venture with StoryFirst PST Limited to form Pinewood Television. The new company will create, develop and finance high quality drama series for the international market. Helen Gregory has been appointed Creative Director.
Pinewood Television is expected to be both an originating producer and a co-producing partner for major drama projects looking for deficit funding. It is in the process of arranging long-term external financing for its slate from a group of investors and banks.
Pinewood Group says the new division will look to fill a gap in the market acting as a one-stop shop, through partnerships with producers, providing both development and deficit financing with enhanced upside economics. The company aims build a library of TV content and says it will have the ability to facilitate development, greenlighting, production, marketing and distribution.
Gregory, the co-creator and co-executive producer of Shondaland/ABC’s The Catch, has a long track record in the UK. Her most recent work includes The Enfield Haunting for Sky Living; Cider With Rosie starring Samantha Morton for BBC One; Sky Atlantic’s Fortitude; BBC Two/BBC America’s The Last Kingdom; and Julian Fellowes’ Dr Thorne for Hat Trick/The Weinstein Co and ITV. She was previously a commissioning editor for Drama at Channel Four.
Pinewood Chief Executive Ivan Dunleavy says, “The global demand for high-end television continues to rise dramatically and, with (high-end TV) fiscal incentives available, the Pinewood television business will participate in this growing market. Pinewood Television’s offering will build on the financing experience that Pinewood and StoryFirst has developed to date.”
StoryFirst is a media investment vehicle for projects sponsored by U.S. entrepreneur Peter Gerwe and partners. Its investments are largely Russia-based and include CTC Media; HELLO! magazine; Corvette Telecom; Sony Pictures Cable Channels in Russia and the CIS; and Spain’s Hola!/Hello! TV.
The Pinewood Studios Group encompasses Pinewood and Shepperton Studios in the UK, along with outposts in Toronto, Atlanta, Wales, Malaysia and the Dominican Republic. In the UK, recent tenants include Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Spectre, Everest and Avengers: Age Of Ultron. In summer 2014, Pinewood was granted permission for a major expansion to its flagship South Buckinghamshire facility after years of back-and-forth with the local government. Plans have been afoot for some time to increase its TV production capabilities as stage space in the UK has been crunched by the drama craze and with more U.S. productions decamping to Britain.