Hollywood firm builds new £300m studios in Dagenham, UK
Posted on: Tuesday 3rd of November 2020
The investment company which owns the studios where The Sopranos, Sex and the City and 30 Rock were recorded today signed a deal to build London’s largest Hollywood-style TV and film production centre. Hackman Capital Partners, the owner of sites including Culver Studios in Los Angeles and Silvercup Studios in New York, has agreed to invest £300m over the next three years to develop the site with the first productions due to start filming by mid-2022.
The company will construct up to 12 sound stages, three acres of backlot space for scene sets and offices on 500,000 sq ft of former factory land near Dagenham East station. Work is expected to start in 2021.
While the coronavirus pandemic brought the film and TV production industry to a halt, the UK remains a world leading location for Hollywood blockbusters and big budget TV dramas. More than 200 films and 120 high-end TV shows – those costing more than £1m an episode, such as The Crown – were made in the UK last year with a total production spend of £3.1bn. This is due not only to the abundant supply of technical talent in the UK, but also to tax relief for high budget productions progressively introduced since 2007.
Council leader Darren Rodwell said: “Today we’re making history. Dagenham used to be famous for factories and Ford but in the future, we will be equally famous for making films. It’s not for the glamour or glory. It’s about bringing in thousands of jobs, providing education and training opportunities for local young people and giving people hope in these gloomy Covid times. I’m hugely proud to announce HCP as our partner. They are the right people at the right time. It’s the ‘reel deal’ for our borough, London and the UK.”
The news comes a year after the project’s original backer Pacifica Ventures, which designed the studios where Breaking Bad was made, pulled out over Brexit concerns. The local council vowed to press on alone, awarding the studios planning permission over the summer and releasing £3.4m to cover any pre-development costs.
The town hall’s investment arm Be First said it received several “really strong bids” from potential joint venture partners before signing the deal with HCP, which also owns The Culver Studios in California, Television City Studios in LA and Silvercup Studios in New York. The council has also built up its own film unit, which has already attracted big-budget films such as Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Doctor Strange, as well as TV dramas including Netflix’s Black Mirror.
The town hall estimates the studios will bring 1,200 extra jobs to Barking and Dagenham and add £35m a year to the local economy.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the studios will help London’s economy recover after the pandemic: “This is a very special moment for Dagenham, our capital and all those who have been working hard to realise this bold vision of bringing new world-class film studios to east London,” he said.
“It is a very significant investment that will inspire further development and creative opportunities, and secure our position as a global capital for film and TV. We are already seeing that the success of this industry will help our economy to recover from the impact of the pandemic, and these studios will play a key role in our city’s future.”