Pinewood Shepperton Plc, the owner of studios where James Bond and Harry Potter movies were made, will open a media and production studio in southern Malaysia.
It will partner a unit of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, a Malaysian state fund, to build on an 80-acre site in the Iskandar region of Johor bordering Singapore, Khazanah managing director Azman Mokhtar told reporters yesterday.
Malaysia previously played host for scenes in such blockbusters as Jon Amiel's Entrapment and Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, attracted by its lower costs and exotic locations.
Pinewood's studio will cost RM400 million (S$163 million) to build and will open by early 2013, Mr Azman said, adding that it would directly create 3,000 jobs.
Malaysia's central location and 'the English-speaking and skilled workforce and creative talent has presented us an opportunity to launch our Asian presence', Pinewood Shepperton CEO Ivan Dunleavy said in a statement. The Asian region has the highest growth in film production globally, he added.
Beserah Ventures Sdn Bhd, Khazanah's subsidiary, is likely to own the bulk of the equity in the project, to be known as Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios. Details of funding and stake ownership have yet to be finalised, said Mr Azman.
Pinewood will provide operational and marketing input as well as technical advice and rights to use its global brand.
The facility will offer high-definition equipped TV studios and film stages, post-production suites, offices, workshops and a back lot. It will initially target productions from Malaysia and the Asia-Pacific before expanding to international productions in the long-term, the statement said.
Astro All Asia Networks Plc, Malaysia's biggest pay- television operator, will be an anchor tenant using the studios for a number of its local-language content programmes.
'A sexy studio facility like this will create a lot of buzz,' Mr Azman said, adding that it would complement the region's tourism industry. Universal Studies will open a theme park in Singapore next year, while Disneyland already has one in Hong Kong.