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Major new film studio aims to be largest in UK

Thu 20th Feb 2020

Blackhall Studios has announced an initial agreement with the University of Reading to develop the largest purpose-built film studio and digital creative hub complex in the UK. It is hoped that the new facility will be open early in 2022.

Located west of London on the outskirts of Reading, it is set to employ up to 3,000 people, including 1,500 directly on site and aims to contribute over £500million per year to the UK economy.

Blackhall have stated that the Studios will be developed to the highest environmental standards, in line with Thames Valley Science Park’s and the University of Reading’s values around sustainability and climate change.

Ryan Millsap, Chairman and CEO of Blackhall, said: “We are excited to be establishing a base in the UK. Blackhall is the global standard for entertainment production space and our US-based clients like Disney, Universal and Sony are all asking us to expand into the UK to meet their desire to create productions here. They wouldn’t trust just anyone to meet their high standards, so we are delighted to serve them in this way.

“We are very excited about the prospect of investing in the UK creative industries as one of the most vibrant markets in the world. We hope that the site at Thames Valley Science Park will be the start of a series of investments in the UK which will see investment in jobs, training and the creative arts across a range of disciplines. The UK has a wealth of talent that our UK companies recognise and want to partner with for decades to come.”

Blackhall will combine its film studio management experience from its studios in the United States with the expertise of the UK team headed by Nick Smith, previously Executive Director with Pinewood-Shepperton plc.

The deal marks Blackhall’s entry to the UK market and is the first of several investment opportunities being considered.

Blackhall Studios is in discussions with the University of Reading, which owns Thames Valley Science Park, to bring proposals forward which will not only benefit the economy, but also its students, the local community and the environment.

Sam Foley, Chief Financial Officer of the University of Reading, said: “We are delighted to be talking to Blackhall Studios, whose proposals would build a whole creative hub at Thames Valley Science Park.

“These proposals will boost the creative and cultural economy of our region.”

Nick Smith, Blackhall’s President and COO of Blackhall UK, said:

“Britain has an enviable array of filmmaking talent, but the industry is short of high-quality studio facilities capable of catering for the new and emerging technologies that will form the core of television and film production in the future.

“Our proposals support the UK Government’s desire to see this sector’s annual inward investment deliver £4bn by 2025. Blackhall is committed to play its part in making that vision a reality. This initial investment of £150 million into the UK economy will create a new powerhouse of creative production and educational achievement, as well as generating up to 3,000 new jobs.”

Blackhall was assisted in securing a site by officials at the Department for International Trade (DIT), who have been working with the business over the past year. DIT officials worked with teams in Atlanta and Los Angeles, as well as the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to secure the investment.