Pinewood Toronto Studios breaks ground on new soundstages

Studio president Blake Steels (pictured fourth from left) says the new developments, which will also include 100,000 sq. feet of office space, are expected to cost $40 million and be complete in Q3 of 2013.

Pinewood Toronto Studios began the next phase of its expansion Thursday, breaking ground on three new soundstages.

“The [new soundstages] will be oriented toward supporting TV, live TV audience and film, but they’ll also give the advantage that we’ll be able to house two tentpole films at one time here, which is a significant improvement in our capacity on this site,” said Pinewood studios president, Blake Steels, at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The soundstages, each measuring 10,800 sq. feet, come with an estimated price tag of $40 million.

The expansion of the Pinewood facilities will also include 100,000 sq. feet of office space, designed for long-term tenancy and companies that are involved in post-production and film.

According to Michael Thompson, chair of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Committee, the expanded facilities, when completed, will create anywhere between 2,500 and 3,500 new jobs.

Currently, 25,000 people are estimated to be directly employed in the film and TV industry in Toronto, and Steels says the industry is growing.

“The past couple of years have been good for Toronto,” he said Thursday.

“Our excellent tax credits, outstanding crews and these world-class facilities have helped draw the large features Toronto Pinewood Studios was meant to serve,” he added

Indeed, according to recent statistics, Toronto raked in an all-time high of $1.13 billion in production spending in 2011, a 25 per cent increase over 2010, said Thompson.

Of this, said Steels, an estimated $300 million came from the shoots for Total Recall and Pacific Rim, which were two of the largest shoots in Toronto’s history.

Currently, Pinewood Studios is home to 250,000 sq. feet of purpose-built production facilities, with seven soundstages, including the 46,000 sq. foot mega stage and two effects stages.

According to Steels, construction of the new soundstages and office space is slated for completion in Q3 of 2013.

Photo L to R: Former Toronto Film Board member, Michael Feldman, chair of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Committee, Michael Thompson, Pinewood Toronto Studios chair, Paul Bronfman, Pinewood Studios president, Blake Steels, city councillor ward 30, Paula Fletcher and Toronto Portlands Company CEO, Michael Kraljevic.