Prime Position at Shepperton Studios

2021 was a booming year for the UK’s film and high-end television industry and there doesn’t seem to be any signs of that slowing down into 2022. Despite how you might think a global pandemic would effect such an industry, the results have been quite the opposite with the combined spend by film and high-end television production (HETV) during 2021 reached £5.64 billion, the highest ever reported and £1.27 billion higher than for the pre-pandemic year of 2019, statistics released from a recent report from the BFI have said.

With more streaming services choosing to set up shop in UK studios, 2022 and beyond is set to be a stellar year for UK based film and tv productions. Once such streaming service is Amazon Prime Video, who have signed an unprecedented deal to lease a space at Shepperton Studios in Surrey. This is the company’s first long-term commitment to making films and TV Programmes in the UK after being based predominately in the US over the last few years. This multimillion-pound deal with Shepperton, home to productions from Alien to Mary Poppins Returns, will see Amazon join it’s rival streaming service Netflix who also have an exclusive contract at the Surrey studio.

The 2021 production statistics revealed that there has been increasing investment made by streamer platforms in single long-form productions. In 2021, there were 36 single domestic UK and inward investment productions which contributed £737 million to the HETV spend of £4.09 billion. These productions include Pinocchio, Matilda: The Musical, Persuasion and Lady Chatterley’s Love.

“Shepperton has long been synonymous with top-tier television and movies and we’re proud that it will be home to many [Amazon] Prime Video productions in the years to come,” said Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, which started filming productions in the UK in 2016 with ‘The Grand Tour’.

While specifics of the deal are yet to be publicised, it is understood that Amazon’s lease is for well over 10 years,  longer than deals held by  Netflix and Disney, who have secured space at Pinewood Studios, the parent of Shepperton. Amazon has stated that the next two years are expected be their busiest yet for UK-made productions, with Shepperton due to come online in 2023 once a refurbishment and expansion of the site is complete.

Pinewood and Shepperton will have grown from 29 sound stages across 100 hectares (250 acres) to 63 across 202 hectares (500 acres) once the latest investment programme is complete. “That is not the end of it,” continued Golding, who said that Pinewood had permission for a further 65 hectares (160 acres) to be developed on the site. “It is a ringing endorsement of not just Pinewood, but also the UK film and TV industry.”

CEO of the BFI, Ben Roberts stated that, “The groundwork for further growth is underway with expansion of studio spaces and production hot spots across our nations and regions, and working with industry to build up the skilled workforce that we need to meet demand and stay on top of our game. Government support for production with the screen sector tax reliefs and the Film & TV Production Restart Scheme have played an important part in the industry’s growth and recovery. The Culture Recovery Fund has been a lifeline for independent cinemas and it’s great to see audiences returning to the big screen with Bond and Spiderman leading the way with phenomenal success and independent UK films, such as Spencer, offering such a range of different cinematic stories.”

See the full report from the BFI here!

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