EXCLUSIVE: Left Bank Pictures, the Sony Pictures Television-owned production company behind The Crown, has sounded a warning about the continued uncertainty of producing during the pandemic in its most-recent earnings, which showed that revenue rocketed to another record high.
According to Left Bank’s annual report and financial accounts for the year to end of March 2020, the company’s TV arm generated sales of more than £124 million ($172M) over the period, compared with £108M in 2019, which was the first time its revenue tipped over the nine-figure mark.
Left Bank’s pre-tax profits rose by 46% last year to £20M, according to documents filed at the UK’s Companies House, while gross profit climbed 22% to £25.7M. Nearly three-quarters of Left Bank’s revenue was generated in the UK, while the remainder was from work in the U.S.
Left Bank warned, however, of the “vast array” of challenges relating to Covid-19, which it said has had a “particularly severe” impact on the UK production sector. The company revealed it took a decision last year to reschedule all shoots to early-to-mid 2021 when it will be “better placed” to produce safely.
It means 2020 would have been a quiet year of shoots for Left Bank — a sharp contrast to 2019, which was one of its busiest years for production since setting up in 2006, with White Lines, Outlander, Strike Back, and Behind Her Eyes all shooting.
In some ways, the pandemic fell kindly for The Crown, with Season 4 wrapping before production was halted across the UK last March. Coronavirus also came in a year when Netflix’s lavish royal drama had a planned filming break, meaning Season 5 won’t shoot until this summer.
Deadline hears Left Bank is targeting July to get cameras rolling. Casting is well underway, with Imelda Staunton stepping into Olivia Colman’s shoes to play Queen Elizabeth II. Season 4 has been cleaning up at recent awards, taking home four statues at the Golden Globes, including best TV drama.
One Left Bank show that was impacted, however, was Season 6 of Outlander for Starz. Filming was delayed a number of times last year because of the pandemic, but the historical drama has been back shooting this year.
Left Bank employed 12 people in the year to March 2020, down from 14 the previous year. Its total wage and pension bill stood at £1.8M this year, down from £2.2M in 2018. The highest-paid director, likely to be CEO Andy Harries, took home £526,588 — an increase on 2019’s £513,310.