Sky to build huge new Elstree film studio

UK
Artists impression of Sky Studios Elstree Image copyright Sky
Image caption An artists’ impression of Sky’s Elstree development, which will have 14 sound stages.

Media giant Sky is to build huge new film studios near the existing Elstree production site outside London, creating 2,000 jobs.

The 32-acre development will be used by Sky, other Comcast-owned firms including NBC Universal, and be open to third parties.

Sky predicted up to £3bn would be invested in new production at the site over the next five years.

The UK’s film and television sector has performed strongly in recent years.

Hit shows such as The Crown and Games of Thrones have been filmed using UK facilities as the battle between Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services has intensified.

Sky spends £7bn a year on production in Europe, including football rights, and plans to double the amount it spends on making its own content to £1bn per year by 2024.

Sky Studios chief executive Gary Davey said it was hard to keep up with the increasing demand for high quality content, given that it typically takes three years to bring a project to the screen.

Image copyright Sky
Image caption Chernobyl, a Sky HBO joint production, took 10 years to make, Mr Davey said.

Mr Davey said recent successes, such as the Sky-HBO joint production, Chernobyl, and HBO smash-hit Game of Thrones, had a high proportion of European actors, and showed US audiences were ready to embrace productions made overseas.

Choosing to build the new studios at Elstree meant there would already be a pool of UK production talent available, he added.

The UK now boasts a world-leading film industry, supported by wide-ranging tax relief, including for television and animation. According to the British Film Institute (BFI), UK films grossed $9.4bn (£7.2bn) in 2018, a 23% share of the global box office take.

There is a long history of film making at Elstree. The existing studios, in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, date back to 1925, and were used by George Lucas when he filmed the original Star Wars trilogy.

The new Sky studies will be located close by on land owned by Legal and General, which will fund the development and lease the studios back to Sky.

The studios, which will cost hundreds of millions of pounds to build, will have 14 sound stages.

Nigel Wilson, chief executive of Legal and General, said the plans were “another development in the modernisation of British industry”.

Over the last five years Legal and General has made £20bn of investments in similar projects.

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