Will Pinewood studio sale impact future of Marvel films in Georgia?

Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez

Credit: Alberto E. Rodriguez

Originally posted Tuesday, August 21, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The U.K.-based Pinewood Group has sold its equity stake in Fayetteville’s sprawling Pinewood Atlanta Studios, one of the largest in the United States.

A Pinewood spokeswoman said Tuesday this will not impact its client mix in the future though the Pinewood Group has had close ties with Marvel Studios.

From 2014 until last year, films such as “Ant-Man,” “Spider Man: Homecoming,” “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Endgame” shot much of their films in metro Atlanta, generating hundreds of millions of dollars for local businesses.

Marvel has been working with Pinewood for many years and also uses Pinewood’s U.K. studios for many of its films.

In the near term, it’s business as usual. Marvel’s “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” is set to shoot there later this year into 2020. Some  Disney+ streaming TV series are likely to land at Pinewood as well.

There is no word yet whether “Guardians of the Galaxy 3” or “Black Panther 2” will be shot in metro Atlanta.

Pinewood will also keep its name on the front of the facility for 18 months.

River’s Rock, an independently managed trust of the Cathy family, will own the entire studio now. Cathy also owns the  popular Chick-fil-A fast-food operations.

The joint venture between the two companies was first set up in 2013, five years after Georgia passed tax credit incentives that have drawn hundreds of TV and film productions into the state and turned the state into one of the biggest producers of video content in the world.

The studios, about 23 miles south of downtown Atlanta in Fayetteville, encompass 700 acres and 18 sound stages and is considered the second largest film and TV studio facility in North America.

The current Pinewood investors Aermont, who took over in 2016, are also pulling out of Malaysia and want to focus on expanding in the U.K .

Frank Patterson will continue to run the Atlanta studio. He said in a press release that River's Rock will focus more on building "content opportunities... We've got some exciting investments in the pipeline on the content creation side of the business so this a truly great time for the industry in Atlanta."

Pinewood said the move is independent of any legislation going on in Georgia, including the "heartbeat" abortion bill that was passed in the spring that led to calls from some Hollywood folks to boycott the state.
The DC Movies film "Suicide Squad" is set to start production next month at Pinewood.