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Sky plans new UK studio

An artist’s impression of Sky Studios Elstree

CONTENT LONDON: Sky is planning to build a new TV and film studio in the UK, leading to the creation of more than 2,000 jobs and an additional £3bn (US$3.9bn) of local production investment.

Sky Studios Elstree will be a 32-acre, state-of-the-art facility near the village just north of London, with 14 stages and cutting-edge tech, the Comcast-owned European satcaster said.

According to Sky, the studio will generate an additional £3bn of production investment in the UK’s creative economy over the first five years of operation, from Sky, Comcast-owned NBCUniversal (NBCU) and other producers.

The new development will provide significant capacity for Sky Studios to produce more original content in-house, with the firm adding that it would also continue to work with independent production companies across Europe.

It comes shortly after the formation of Sky Studios, which was founded in June to aid the satcaster’s aim of doubling its original production output. Led by CEO Gary Davey and chief commercial officer Jane Millichip, the fledgling operation acquired its first prodco stake, in natural history outfit True To Nature, in August.

Gary Davey

The studio will also play host to major film productions from Universal Pictures, Focus Features and Working Title, as well as television series from NBCU Content Studio. It will also have capacity to host productions from third-party producers. Davey unveiled the plans at C21’s Content London event this morning.

Sky Studios Elstree will work in close collaboration with the nearby Elstree Studios despite both businesses being managed independently of each other.

The proposed development will be made with the backing of Comcast and in partnership with sister company NBCU. Sky’s legal and general department will develop its site and provide financing for the project. It expects to submit a formal planning application early next year.

Subject to planning consent, the 32-acre development is expected to open in 2022 and will be able to produce several films and TV shows simultaneously, with each of the 14 sound stages covering more than 20,000 square feet.

Once complete, the site will include production offices, a set construction workshop, a screening cinema and post-production and digital facilities.

Sky said it was also committed to supporting the next generation of young and diverse creative talent and would use Sky Studios Elstree to build on its existing work.

Sky group CEO Jeremy Darroch said: “Sky Studios Elstree will play a pivotal role in bringing the wealth of UK and European talent and creativity to the world.

“We know our customers love our award-winning Sky Originals like Chernobyl, and our investment in Sky Studios Elstree will enable us to bring more unique stories to more viewers.

“We are proud to be working with our colleagues at NBCUniversal and Comcast, and our partners Hertsmere Borough Council and L&G, to bring this project to life. Together, we share a joint vision to create a world-leading production capability that will support the creation of thousands of jobs in the creative sector. We can’t wait to get started.”

Sajida Bijle, interim MD of Hertsmere Borough Council, said: “This scheme would bring significant employment opportunities to the region and put Elstree firmly on the global stage, while further enhancing our local film tourism. There will be opportunities for people to see the plans and to comment on the proposals once a formal planning application is submitted.”

Nigel Wilson, CEO of Sky’s legal and general group, said: “The UK is a great place to invest. Growing at twice the speed of the economy as a whole and accounting for over two million jobs, our creative industries are a key component of Britain’s bright future.”

Roger Morris, MD, Elstree Studios, said: “Sky Studios Elstree will be of immense importance to the UK film and television industry – it will not only boost the local economy of Hertsmere and Hertfordshire, but will also have a major impact on the UK’s creative sector as a whole. We are extremely proud that Sky Studios Elstree has chosen to locate near us and we look forward to working closely with them.”

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