Pinewood Toronto Studios majority owner Bell Media is looking to possibly sell its stake in the marquee studio where Star Trek: Discovery series and Guillermo del Toro shot.
Executives at the Canadian media giant, a subsidiary of phone giant BCE Inc., were not available for comment. But The Hollywood Reporter confirmed to potentially controlling bidders, who wished to remain anonymous, that an informal sales process was underway.
The potential sale of a controlling stake in the Toronto studio comes as property developers and hedge funds place increasing bets on Hollywood continuing to shoot movies and TV series in Canada. At Pinewood Toronto Studios, Netflix has long-term leases for four audio systems and adjoining offices with approximately 84,580 square feet of production space.
In 2020, Bell Media added to its control by purchasing a minority stake from real estate developer Alfredo Romano’s Castlepoint Numa. That comes after BCE’s media subsidiary acquired a 45% stake in megastudio from retirement fund ROI Capital and received additional shares from the remaining three co-owners – Comweb Studios Holdings, Castlepoint Realty Partners and the city Toronto – to secure a majority stake in the studio facility in 2018.
But those deals were made under former Bell Media president Randy Lennox, who stepped down and was replaced by Wade Oosterman as head of media in early 2021. To accommodate the surge. In anticipation in the post-pandemic American TV and film production sector, Pinewood Toronto Studios is adding more post-shooting sound stages for TV series like Star Trek: Discovery and movies like Molly’s Game, Suicide Squad and the monster epic of Guillermo del Toro Pacific rim.
Los Angeles producers coveted tax credits and monetary savings when heading north to film against the Toronto soundscape. The sale of a majority stake in Pinewood Toronto Studios could also happen amid a rapidly changing studio business in the city.
Rival Cinespace Studios was acquired by TPG Real Estate Partners for $1.1 billion. The property company purchased Cinespace studio campuses in Toronto and Chicago, which produced major films and TV series such as Dick Wolf’s Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago MedBy Netflix Umbrella Academy and MGM’s The story of the maid. Cinespace also acquired German Studio Babelsberg to operate under its umbrella.
And MBS Group, a Hackman Capital Partners firm, is currently developing two ambitious new projects: Basin Media Campus, a $250 million purpose-built film studio on Toronto’s waterfront, and Downsview Studios around $200 million, will provide eight initial shoots, followed by additional studio space in the form of a converted hangar at the adjoining Downsview Air Force Base as part of a redevelopment over 370 acres.
Ontario currently has about 3.7 million square feet of studio space and is expected to grow to 5.7 million square feet in the next four years.