Pinewood Studios, the UK-based home of the James Bond movie series, which is the longest running in film history, is poised to move production of its latest entry, tentatively called “Bond 24,” out of Britain, and to a new home: Fayetteville, Georgia.
The signs for such a move are clear and very real.
First, Pinewood Studios has invested in the construction of a new, 288-acre, five-sound-stage complex of over 300,000 square feet, in Fayetteville, Georgia, and named “Pinewood Studios Atlanta,” presumably because no one has ever heard of Fayetteville, Georgia. Built in partnership with RiverRock, an independently managed trust run by the owners of Chick-fil-A fast food chain, it’s scheduled to open January of 2014 and will eventually employ over 3,000 people.
Second, the same Pinewood Studios has worked to expand its current, iconic, 100-acre studio in south Buckinghamshire, England. Back in May, speculation ran that the next James Bond film would not be made there if Pinewood did not receive approval from the South Buckinghamshire District Council on its plans to expand the facility. Of all Bond films, only two, Moonraker and License to Kill, have not been made at Pinewood Studios, UK.
Third, Disney has agreed to move production of Star Wars Episode VII to the current Pinewood Studios in the UK. With that news, and the other production commitments like Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella and Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy, and the need for more space, making Bond 24 in Fayetteville, Georgia would free up space for Star Wars, which is to start production in 2014, the same year the Georgia studios will be open.
Fourth, surprisingly, the South Buckinghamshire District Council turned down Pinewood Studios expansion plans. According to Gerrards Cross, six out of 10 committee members rejected the proposal.
Now, in late August, the SBDC was to take up a meeting last Wednesday, August 21st to determine if the project should be approved. The SBCD will argue:
– That the project would damage the green belt.
– That the project is not consistent with sustainable patterns of development and would have poor accessibility.
– That Pinewood Studios has overstated its business case given the uncertain nature of the film business.
There’s no word on the outcome of that meeting as of this writing.
“We’re at capacity, the UK is at capacity, something has to give,” said Ivan Dunleavy, chief executive of Pinewood to The Guardian UK. “If we as a sector don’t respond to the growing demand then someone else will. (The producers of the Bond films) have to be financially responsible. If they get a better proposal elsewhere than the UK can mount then they have to look after their business as well.”
Mr.Dunleavy told The Standard UK that to handle all the new productions, that Pinewood is building a new 45,000 sq ft stage and workshop facility at a cost of £7.5 million. And “We want to build another six of these,” which would bring 3,100 new jobs – but right now, he can’t because of being blocked by the South Buckinghamshire District Council.
And that points to Georgia, and a complex that will be open January of 2014 in Fayetteville.