Pinewood Atlanta chiefs to invest in production companies

President Frank Patterson trying to create complete market ecosystem at Pinewood’s 700-acre site

By Chris Evans 7 Jan 2020

Pinewood Atlanta chiefs to invest in production companies
Pinewood Atlanta Studios

Pinewood Atlanta Studios president Frank Patterson and chief operating officer Craig Heyl have raised $16.5m to invest in two production companies as venture capitalists.

Patterson’s Green Honey venture firm will invest in Los Angeles-based Sutikki and New York-based Believe Entertainment Group. The former produced 50 episodes of television series Moon & Me at Pinewood Atlanta Studios last year, while the latter produced Academy Award-winning short film Dear Basketball.

“These are equity investments in the companies themselves,” Patterson said in an interview with the Atlanta Business Chronicle. “We love their work. Their production offices will be located at Pinewood. With our equity stake, we are going to be on the boards of these companies.”

Patterson said that all but $3m of the $16.5m investment was raised in Georgia – primarily from high net worth individuals and private equity firms.

This is a big growth move for us,” added Patterson, who said this was in addition to Pinewood Atlanta’s “core business” as the studio where major film productions for Marvel and Warner Brothers are produced. “They’re not going anywhere.”

This is intended to be just the beginning. Green Honey plans to raise a total of $60m in 2020 to invest in three other content-production companies as well as entertainment technology firms – all with the intent of broadening film and television production in Georgia.

Purchased by the Cathy family last year, Pinewood Atlanta now has more than one million square feet, and it claims to be the second-largest purpose-built studio in the United States. In recent years it has hosted major productions, including Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, The Avengers: Endgame and Black Panther.

Patterson said the plan is to relaunch Pinewood Atlanta with a new name in the middle of 2020 and to continue creating an “ecosystem” for the film industry by expanding in the origination, funding, production and distribution of entertainment content from Georgia.

"We are moving from a facilities place to being home to the companies that are producing the content. We are also locating talent here.”

These are positive signs for the state as a filming location, following recent concerns that the local film and TV production tax credits might be scaled back in state legislature, and the potential negative effect of the anti-abortion heart-beat bill passed last year.

But Patterson is confident that Georgia will continue to be a major centre for film and television. “Call me naïve, but my experience is that there are state leaders who are too business savvy to make a mistake that would cause the industry to go away. I believe in the state of Georgia, and I believe in the film industry.”

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