London’s Twickenham Studios is teaming up with property developer Capital & Centric to launch Littlewood Studios, a new film and TV hub in the northern UK city of Liverpool.
Regeneration specialist Capital & Centric bought the iconic art-deco Littlewoods building in 2017 and now London studio Twickenham, which has hosted movies including Blade Runner, The Italian Job, Gandhi and more recently The Martian and Baby Driver as well as TV series such as Black Mirror and McMafia, has agreed to a deal to become the hub’s first anchor tenant by taking over 85,000 square feet of the 300,000 square foot building.
As part of a long-gestating concept, the building is to get a $67M (£50M) refurb including two new 20,000 square foot sound stages, workshops, wardrobe and prop storage, and offices, ahead of a potential 2020 opening.
The building is the former HQ of one-time UK retail and soccer betting giant Littlewoods. Founded in 1923 and going strong until the 1980s, the company once employed more than 20,000 people but broke up following the emergence of online players.
The deal is subject to planning permission but it is hoped the new partnership, which is backed by Liverpool’s mayor, will stimulate hundreds of jobs in the area.
The announcement comes one week after Liverpool made the shortlist of cities to become the new home to Channel 4’s regional base, with Littlewoods a core part of the city’s bid. Film and TV productions recently shot in and around Liverpool include Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them and Peaky Blinders.
The UK remains one of the U.S.’ first ports of call for major studio film and TV productions and the local industry is supercharged by inward investment. With production facilities increasingly in demand, a major new studio has also been proposed in East London.
Maria Walker, Chief Operating Officer of Twickenham Studios, said, “This is a major milestone in our history. When we saw the vision for Littlewoods we knew we had to be a part of what will be an incredibly special place.
“Liverpool’s architecture, accessibility and can-do attitude sees film-makers return to the city time and time again. With the added benefit of our studios, they’ll have access to gold-standard interior facilities right on the doorstep of unique exterior locations. It will be great to see Liverpool become an international focal point for TV and film.”