- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Build it and they will come” has — for the past few years, at least — been a hugely successful strategy for the U.K.’s bustling studio industry; with the intense demand for space, new facilities barely have the time to crack open a bottle of champagne or cut a ribbon before they’re filled with film or TV productions.
But the frenetic pace of shoots heading to the U.K., especially in high-end TV as Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV+, Disney+, Sky Studios and others ramp up their local slates, has made build speed something of a priority, an area where a new operation is looking to capitalize.
Stage Fifty recently opened two 22,000-square-foot soundstages in Farnborough, southwest of London and best known for its annual air show (the facilities are on the doorstep of private airport Farnborough International). Like most others, both sites were immediately occupied, this time by The Devil’s Hour for Amazon Studios and Inside Man for the BBC/Netflix.
However, the key difference — and Stage Fifty’s selling point — is that these stages were put up in just four months, significantly shorter than the 12- to 18-month build time similar spaces usually take. And this time frame means that its stages are being constructed specifically for certain shoots to move into so that producers needn’t wait around for spaces to free up.
“What we’re doing is literally building stages for productions, so we sign up a production and build out while they’re in prep,” says CEO James Enright, who also operates Bray Studios, best known for its association with Hammer Film Productions and recently reopened after a number of years amassing cobwebs. “That’s our way of working now, which is a bit of a game-changer.”
Another significant factor working in Stage Fifty’s favor is that its stages — which can be taken down in two months (although this has yet to be put to the test) — qualify for temporary planning permission, helping fast-track the contractual processes with local authorities.
“So we’re building on sites that other property developers would never touch,” says Enright, who claims that there’s currently half a million square feet of space being developed across several sites around southeast England, not too far from the well-established studio titans of Pinewood, Shepperton and Leavesden. “And this will be reached within the next 24 months.”
This story first appeared in the June 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day