Sky’s block­buster plan to build huge new film stu­dio

£3bn in­vest­ment to take on Net­flix and Ama­zon

Scottish Daily Mail - - City&finance - by Matt Oliver

SKY is to build a mam­moth TV and film stu­dios com­plex in the UK as it takes on stream­ing gi­ants Net­flix and Ama­zon.

The broad­caster’s new hub at El­stree, just north of Lon­don, will cost hundreds of mil­lions of pounds and house 14 stages.

It is ex­pected to cre­ate more than 2,000 jobs and at­tract £3bn of in­vest­ment into Bri­tish pro­duc­tions in its first five years.

The Hol­ly­wood-style de­vel­op­ment, set to open in 2022, is Sky’s big­gest ex­pan­sion yet into orig­i­nal film and tele­vi­sion and fol­lows the suc­cess of its hit dra­mas Chernobyl, Pa­trick Mel­rose and Riviera, star­ring Ju­lia Stiles (pic­tured).

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the 32-acre site will also be used by com­pa­nies owned by Sky’s Amer­i­can par­ent Com­cast, such as Univer­sal Pic­tures, NBC and Dreamworks An­i­ma­tion, as well as third par­ties.

It was hailed yes­ter­day as the lat­est vote of con­fi­dence in the UK’s boom­ing cre­ative in­dus­tries, com­ing just months af­ter me­dia gi­ants Net­flix and Dis­ney sep­a­rately struck mas­sive deals to lease pro­duc­tion space at the his­toric Shep­per­ton Stu­dios and Pinewood Stu­dios re­spec­tively.

Sky’s com­plex will be just down the road from El­stree Stu­dios, where George Lu­cas filmed the first Star Wars movie in 1976 and where Net­flix pro­duces its hit drama The Crown. The project is be­ing fi­nanced and con­structed by Le­gal & Gen­eral, which has agreed to lease the site back to Sky for ‘decades’.

The ma­noeu­vres come as en­ter­tain­ment com­pa­nies jos­tle to win sub­scribers for a host of new on­line video stream­ing ser­vices, with exclusive con­tent seen as the key to suc­cess. Sky Stu­dios’ chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Davey said it plans to dou­ble in­vest­ment in orig­i­nal pro­duc­tions to about £1bn per year.

It comes just over 14 months af­ter the Bri­tish com­pany was bought for £30bn by Com­cast, which out­bid Ru­pert Mur­doch’s 21st Cen­tury Fox in a dra­matic takeover bat­tle.

Davey, a vet­eran TV ex­ec­u­tive who has been at Sky since its launch in the 1990s, said: ‘The ap­petite for qual­ity drama and come­dies just keeps go­ing up and there is now in­creas­ing global recog­ni­tion that the UK is a great place to do this stuff.

‘We have spent a lot of time fig­ur­ing out the or­gan­i­sa­tion, struc­ture and ca­pac­ity we need and this is the fi­nal piece of the puz­zle. It is a very ex­cit­ing time.’

He said the fa­cil­ity was be­ing de­signed in a way that would al­low ex­pan­sion in fu­ture.

El­stree Films Stu­dios said it was ‘ex­tremely proud’ that Sky had cho­sen to lo­cate it­self nearby and said the site would be of ‘im­mense im­por­tance’ to the cre­ative in­dus­tries.

The two sites are ex­pected to work ‘closely’ to­gether.

Screen shot: An artist’s im­pres­sion of how the stu­dio will look

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