The UK’s film and TV studios are struggling to cope with surging demand for space according to Lambert Smith Hampton’s new report, Sites, Camera, Action!
To meet current demand for UK film and high-end TV production, land the size of 100 football pitches is needed to host the 1.9 million sq ft of new studio space required by 2032. This is driven by the popularity of British content with UK feature film spend reaching a record high of £1.9 billion* in 2017. Further significant investment, primarily driven by US inflows, is expected with films such as Star Wars IX currently being shot at Pinewood Studios.
Online services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are driving a revolution in the quantity and quality of television content being produced worldwide. Netflix productions filmed or part-filmed in the UK include Black Mirror and The Crown.
Against strong international competition, the UK has been successful in attracting major film and TV productions on the back of a generous tax relief system, its strong cultural appeal and the availability of on- and off-screen talent. The UK’s skills base makes it one of the very few countries outside of the US where major feature films can be crewed locally.
The UK film industry is heavily concentrated within London and the South East, and this region is home to world-famous studios including Pinewood, Leavesden and Shepperton. London’s unrivalled mix of locations, facilities, talent and technical expertise give it a unique appeal to international filmmakers. In recent years, the city has hosted the filming of multiple blockbuster movies including those in the Star Wars, Mission: Impossible and Marvel franchises.
Increased activity has also been sparked in other parts of the UK. The filming of Game of Thrones has acted as a catalyst for the growth of the Northern Ireland film industry, while Doctor Who has had a similar impact in South Wales. New studios have been built in both of these areas within the last 18 months, at Belfast Harbour Studios and Wolf Studios Wales.
Despite a moderate amount of new development in recent years, a shortage of purpose-built film studios is widely acknowledged as a major issue within the UK film industry.
Across the UK, there are multiple proposals for new studio developments that aim to address the current supply crunch. These include the proposed new studios at Dagenham in east London, which will include 12 new sound stages totalling 264,000 sq ft. Other major projects in the pipeline include the Littlewoods Film Studios in Liverpool and Pentland Film Studios, near Edinburgh. However, these new projects will not be enough to make up for the shortage in supply. There is significant room for further new studio development, with an 80% increase on current supply required.
Christopher Berry, Head of Media, at LSH, said:
“We are seeing unprecedented levels of client activity around film and TV studios, and have witnessed at first hand the phenomenal interest created by the proposed new studio complex at Dagenham. The property industry has been slow to recognise the scale of the opportunity in the sector, but demand for film and TV studio space is exceptionally strong so we expect this to change.”
Matthew Colbourne, Associate Director – Commercial Research at LSH, commented:
“Film and TV studios have not traditionally been a focus for mainstream property developers and investors, but the current supply/demand mismatch is creating opportunities within the sector. There is a clear need for new purpose-built studios capable of hosting big budget productions. Industrial property owners also have the opportunity to market empty buildings as “blank canvas” filming locations to help make up the shortfall in dedicated studio space.”
*According to the British Film Institute
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