Sky’s blockbuster plan to build huge new film studio
£3bn investment to take on Netflix and Amazon
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