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Copyright 2004

[ May 8th 2004 ]

THE studios where the Harry Potter blockbusters are filmed today made a successful debut on the stock market. Shares in the British studios Pinewood Shepperton - where a string of Oscar winning classics were made - were "comfortably" oversubscribed. Prices soared from 180p per share to 192.5p. The group, which owns the Shepperton studios in Staines and Pinewood studios in Slough - was given a market value of £82million by the listing. Pinewood chairman Michael Grade said he was "delighted" by the response from investors. "Pinewood Shepperton is a household name in the film and television industry and we look forward to developing our reputation as a public company," he said.

Pinewood Studios started film production in 1936 following the involvement of J Arthur Rank and has been the setting for more than 650 feature films including Great Expectations, Batman, Carry On Sergeant and 30 other Carry On films. It has also played host to 17 Bond movies including the latest, Die Another Day, and the two Tomb Raider films. Shepperton Studios started out in 1932 and has seen more than 700 films produced, including The Guns Of Navarone, Gandhi, Four Weddings And A Funeral and Love Actually. The company was formed after a management team led by Mr Grade bought Pinewood Studios from the Rank Group in 2000 and then purchased Shepperton Studios in February 2001.

The group, which employs about 200 people, has 36 stages across its two studios and owns the freehold to the two sites, which together total more than 200 acres. In addition to major national and international film production, the studios are used for filmed television and studio television recording and post-production sound services. The BBC quiz show The Weakest Link is filmed at Pinewood. The groupís largest customers include MGM, Paramount, Warner Brothers. Disney, Universal-owned UK production house Working Title and national British broadcasters. Its turnover for the year to December 31 was £37.9million with an operating profit of £10.9million.

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