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No Room at the Inn for UK Studios

To say there is no room at the inn is an understatement

3 Nov 2022

For some obscure and silly reason, No Room at the Inn is the title of a far-from-great 1948 Movie that lives rent free in my head. Whenever capacity runs short at a hotel or a restaurant these five words immediately resonate.

These words came back to me again today when I was reviewing UK Studio capacity. To say there is no room at the inn is an understatement. There are currently around 6 million sq ft of production facilities which is not enough to meet demand. And just to ramp up the problem, production spend is estimated to double over the next 5 years; this means an additional 6 million sq ft of space will be needed, at best. Feature film and HETV (High End TV which is defined as spend of equivalent of £1m per 60 mins) expenditure increased from £2.85 billion to £5.64 billion in 2021.  Film and HETV expenditure will hit around £11 billion by 2026 if this growth trajectory continues.

The main focus for studios is London and South East which accounts for 60% of capacity, split 21% in London and 39% in the South East. The government’s levelling-up program may mean that more studios will be built in other regions and certainly outside the M25. As major studios and streamers commit to more space and sign long term leases and offer favourable up-front incentives, the challenge to smaller companies and independents increases. The demand for space has pushed up rents and it is becoming attractive to build studios in less expensive alternatives to London or the South East

There is a high number of Studios under construction including Pinewood Shepperton 465,000 sq ft; Shinfield Studios at Reading 440,000 sq ft; and Sky Studios at Elstree (now there is a heritage name to conjure up), 1,200,000 sq ft. Planning applications or approvals are in place at Waltham Cross, Bray Studios and Pinewood Studios. I remember walking around Pinewood many years ago and it felt like being on the Mary Celeste, this is not the case now.

Growth in any sector brings challenges and I guess what we are seeing in the Film and TV Sector is overall great news.  Property developers and the construction industry are clear winners at this stage.

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