The largest new film and media studios to be built in London for decades will be constructed and operated in Dagenham, East London, by U.S. production facilities specialist Pacifica Ventures in partnership with private equity firm Media Content Capital.
Barking and Dagenham Council said today that the two firms have emerged victorious in the hotly contested bidding process to build the the 22-acre site. Promotion agency Film London and property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton acted as advisors on what the partners are describing as a $140 million (£100 million) deal.
The two companies are promising 12 state-of-the-art sound stages – covering some 264,000 square feet; workshops and warehouses for lighting and grip operations and at least 95,000 square feetof production office space; an extensive post-production, visual effects and media technology complex; a multi-forma large-screen theater auditorium; a major event center and large-screen auditorium including VR and immersive 3D attractions with studio tours; and retail and dining outlets.
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There are understood to have been a number of bids for the contract, including from UK stalwart Pinewood Studios, the home of the Star Wars and James Bond franchises.
Pacifica Ventures’ stateside facilities include the Albuquerque Studios in New Mexico, which it designed, developed, built and continues to operate, and the Sun Center Studios outside Philadelphia. Productions to use the former include Terminator: Salvation, The Avengers, The Lone Ranger and AMC smash Breaking Bad. Media Content Capital is the private equity fund that owns film and TV companies Covert Media and QED International.
London is hungry for studio space so this fills an important need. Inward investment film and TV projects now account for a huge slice of the local film and TV economy. The spend on film production in the UK in 2017 reached a record $2.7M, a 12% increase on the previous year. That was largely driven by U.S. studio-backed projects with 68 major inward investment films based out of the UK. High-end TV is also booming in the territory.
Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, which assessed the bids for Dagenham council, said, “I would like to thank all the bidders for the excellent quality of their submissions. Our team rigorously assessed each but a clear winner emerged. Subject to detailed negotiations and exchange of contracts with Pacifica Ventures – MCC we expect construction of the media and TV complex to get underway in 2019.”
The council expects the studio to generate up to 1000 jobs in the area.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan added: “London is a global capital for film – with more than 40 film crews on our streets every day. I’m delighted that Pacifica Ventures has been announced as the preferred bidder – their exceptional track record will further cement the capital’s position as a world-leading film-making city. This development will bring hundreds of new jobs to the area – from carpenters to camera crew – and will bring big Hollywood blockbusters to Barking and Dagenham.”
The area of Dagenham is perhaps most famous for its Ford car plant, which was the backdrop of 2010 movie Made In Dagenham. Film and TV projects to shoot in the area in recent years include Marvel’s Doctor Strange, Sky’s Lucky Man and Channel 4’s Humans.
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