Belfast Telegraph

Port seeking green light for £30m plans to create second biggest film studios in UK

Opportunity: Joe O’Neill
Opportunity: Joe O’Neill
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

Belfast Harbour will launch its bid tomorrow to establish the second largest film studios in the UK outside London's Pinewood Studios.

The trust port initially invested £22m in building Belfast Harbour Studios at Giants Park on Dargan Road two-and-a-half years ago.

The eight-acre site already has 66,000 sq ft of stage space, along with 55,000 sq ft of workshop and office space.

Belfast Harbour said it will submit a planning notice tomorrow to add another 110,000 sq ft of stage space to the complex.

It's expected to represent another £30m investment and take up to 18 months to complete once planning approval is secured.

Warner Bros became the first to make use of the studios.

Warner Horizon is on site, finishing off recording the second series of Superman prequel Krypton for the SYFY channel.

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Belfast Harbour chief executive, Joe O'Neill yesterday described the film and TV market as "booming".

He said major studios, from Disney to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, had increased demand for stage space.

"All of them are looking for studio space. But there is a shortage of studio space and so there's an opportunity for Belfast," he said.

"If it has the right stages, we we can capture a large part of that market opportunity."

The chief executive said the harbour is building up its relationships within the film and TV industry.

"We're starting to go out into the market and meet with them and work with NI Screen, who have the relationships and a very good pipeline of enquiries going with all the major studio providers," he said.

"Those studios just need to see that somebody is actually going to build and then they will engage in commercial discussions.

"Our business model allows us to make those investments on a speculative basis and then sit down and have a conversation from them about a commercial commitment."

Meanwhile, production is well under way across the water at Titanic Studios on the new, as yet unnamed, Game Of Thrones prequel.

Home Box Office said that its new series takes place "thousands of years before the events of Game Of Thrones".

It added: "It chronicles the world's descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour."

Belfast Telegraph