Netflix scouting locations for permanent UK production base

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The British film industry will get a shot in the arm from an unlikely source if Netflix plans to open a new production base in the country become reality.

With more than £6 billion earmarked for new shows annually in the UK, the online entertainment giant is being hindered by a shortage of production space here.

Its solution is to seek a permanent UK base of its own in which to make the growing number of UK productions it has planned – there are 40 under way this year alone.

Netflix has already signalled its confidence in the British market by backing hits such as The Crown and Black Mirror.

Its latest production The King, based on Shakespeare’s King Henry plays, is a blockbuster, with an estimated 20,000 cast and crew.

The company’s preference is for a long lease on an existing studio, rather than the construction of new facilities.

But most of the existing space has already been snapped up by rival giants such as Disney, Warner Brothers and ITV.

Netflix has given strong support to plans for the expansion of Shepperton Studios in Surrey, one of the UK’s biggest and filming location for hits including the latest Mamma Mia! movie.

The company, which has headquarters in California, intends to spend more than $8 billion worldwide on more than 700 new productions.

It signalled its ambition by setting up its first European production facility in Madrid, the 22,000 square metre Ciudad de la Tele (TV City).

Netflix and its online streaming rival Amazon have both increased their spending on UK productions by around 20 per cent, but the studio shortage threatens to stifle that growth.

According to figures from The Pinewood Group lack of capacity has already cost the British film industry £2.8 billion in lost productions that went overseas.

The UK studio shortage has inspired some innovative, albeit temporary solutions by film-makers.

ITV used a World War II RAF base in Yorkshire for the hit series Victoria and a former warehouse in north-west London to shoot Mr Selfridge.

Pinewood studios in Buckinghamshire have been filled by Disney for its Star Wars franchise. Warner Brothers films hits such as the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies at Leavesden in Hertfordshire.

A new report from film and TV property specialists Lambert Smith Hampton estimates that new studio space equal in size to 100 football pitches is needed over the next 15 years.

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