$640 Million U.K. Studios Fund Launches, Acquires London's Twickenham

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY_embed - Publicity - EMBED 2019
Alex Bailey/Twentieth Century Fox

"I just knew for myself it was going to be a special experience," Malek said of taking on Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody

The new fund aims to invest in a network of studios across the U.K. where production spend last year hit an all-time high.

The U.K.'s growing status as one of the world's leading film and TV production hubs and the ever-increasing demand for studio space has led to the creation of a new 500 million pound ($640 million) investment fund. 

The Creative District Improvement Company — founded by real estate developers Piers Read, producer of hit Brit comedies The Inbetweeners and Peep Show, and Jeremy Rainbird, who helped launch Sharon Horgan's label Merman — was unveiled Monday to capitalize on the boom created by the likes of Amazon, Apple and Netflix. The fund is set to be invested in a network of film studios across the U.K., with the founders claiming that they aim to open "one million square feet of production space by 2024."

As part of the launch, the company unveiled the $50 million acquisition of Twickenham Studios, the historic London facility that last year landed an Oscar for its sound work on Bohemian Rhapsody and recently earned a BAFTA for mixing Sam Mendes World War I epic 1917.

The investment will be used to expand Twickenham and develop more production facilities, including film stages, flexible workspace for creative industries with new event and hospitality space. It will also support Twickenham's expansion at new facilities in the city of Liverpool.

"Despite the creative industries sector contributing 11 percent of the U.K. GDP in 2018 and growing five times faster than the national economy, increasing demand for studio and production space in the U.K. had threatened to derail Britain’s prosperous creative rise with a lack of funding, facilities and expertise," said Creative District Improvement Company chairman Anthony Lilley. "We at TCDI Co. have a genuine strategy that will address the space deficit and train the next generation of industry practitioners at each studio complex."

Added Read: "Twickenham Studios is a much-loved studio, a world-renowned heritage brand and a fantastic trading company as well. We have significant capital to develop the estate and upgrade the facilities. As we continue to expand our operating studio platform throughout the UK including Liverpool and Ashford."

U.K. production spending hit a record $4.7 billion in 2019, driven by a 29 percent surge in high-end TV thanks to the likes of The Crown, Sex EducationHis Dark Materials and Avenue 5.

"We are living in a golden age of content that will drive huge employment for future generations to come," said Rainbird. "As the chairman and founding investor in Merman the global TV, film and advertising content company, I know firsthand, how very much needed initiatives and facilities like these are. For our industry and for the next generation of content maker."

Added Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London and the British Film Commission: "The U.K. screen industries are enjoying an exceptional boom time and it is crucial that we capitalize on this by continuing to develop our world-class infrastructure and provide access to as much purpose built studio space as we possibly can. I am therefore delighted by today’s news of this major investment by a U.K. company into U.K. sites, including the expansion of Twickenham Studios with its rich history of attracting filmmakers, bringing benefits to the capital and indeed to the UK as a whole."