Hollywood’s Sunset Studios, which produced La La Land, Zoolander and the first in the X-Men franchise, has become the latest American film production house to adopt the lush Hertfordshire countryside as its primary base outside the United States.
Backed by £ 700 million from two major US investment firms, the TV and film studio complex will create more than 4,500 jobs on a brand-new 37-hectare (91-acre) site in Broxbourne, near the Arch of Los rival studio complexes northwest of London. known as the Hollywood of Great Britain.
The area is already home to the independent Elstree studios, where Paddington, the BBC’s Netflix series The Crown and Strictly Come Dancing are filmed, as well as the BBC’s own Elstree studio, which is home to EastEnders.
Sky is in the process of building a 13-acre studio complex in Elstree that will be home to the television group and NBCUniversal, which owns Universal Studios, the maker of The Fast and the Furious.
There is also a proposal from real estate developer Bidwells to create Hertswood Studio, a complex that includes 21 sets, production offices and a film training school, in nearby Borehamwood.
Warner Brothers Studios, where the third Fantastic Beasts Harry Potter spin-off film is currently being shot, is located in the vicinity of Leavesden.
Sunset is expected to be the UK’s largest television and film studio campus, with 15-25 soundstages contributing £ 300 million a year to the local economy, if planning is approved. The group currently owns three studios in Hollywood and announced plans for a fourth, Sunset Glenoaks, last week.
James Seppala, Director of Blackstone Real Estate Europe, which with Hudson Pacific Properties acquired the Broxbourne site, said the UK site would be “a world-class studio facility that will help ensure that the UK continues to be a premier destination. for content production “. Worldwide “.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the project, saying it was “excellent news for the UK film and television industry”.
“The creative industries are at the center of our plans to rebuild better. This will be a hub for UK and international productions, showcasing local talent on the global stage, ”he said.
The development of Sunset comes amid increased spending on film and television production in the UK as a result of a combination of tax breaks and strong demand for new content created by the growth of streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Apple TV.
Spending on high-end international film and television productions in the UK topped £ 2.34 billion in 2020, according to the British Film Commission (BFC), the agency responsible for attracting film and television productions.
While spending fell to a record £ 3bn in 2019, as many productions were suspended during the pandemic, the industry returned to growth in the final part of 2020.
The new investment came from blockbusters like Jurassic World: Dominion, which has been filming in Pinewood, west London, and Mission: Impossible 7, starring Tom Cruise, who has been filming at Longcross Studios in Surrey.
“One thing that has become obvious is that consumers’ appetite for film and television content has exploded,” said Adrian Wootton, CEO of BFC.
“Streaming subscriptions for companies like Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and Disney are getting bigger and bigger and the pandemic has accelerated it. People have short attention spans and are consuming more and more content. “
Wootton said the BFC expected demand for filming facilities in the UK to continue to grow due to that demand and ongoing government incentives, as well as the country’s established infrastructure, talent and skills base, particularly in areas such as special effects. He said the UK had also benefited from a strong reputation for health and safety measures during the pandemic.
To keep pace with demand, 2.3 million square feet of space will be needed for a new soundstage in the UK by 2033, according to a report by real estate consulting firm Lambert Smith Howard.
The developers have embarked on a land grab to secure sites and become home to the next production to rival Game of Thrones, The Crown or Harry Potter.
Pinewood, the UK’s largest studio and permanent home to the James Bond and Star Wars franchises, will double in size. Shepperton, owned by Pinewood, which has a long-term production contract with Netflix, is quadrupling in size.