Netflix is significantly increasingly its physical production footprint in the UK with a deal to operate and expand the Longcross Studios complex just outside London with backing from global asset manager Aviva Investors, co-owner of the 380-acre site.
The move gives the US streamer a second UK site in addition to the 14 stages at Shepperton Studios, part of the Pinewood Group. Netflix has had a long-term lease arrangement with Shepperton, understood to be of around 10 years, since October 2019.
As with Shepperton, it is understood space at Longcross will not be available for hire by third-party productions.
Longcross, just 20 minutes by road from Shepperton, presently has four main stages, a 200-acre backlot, a test track, off-road course, and 150-year-old manor house.
As part of the deal, Aviva has acquired its remaining stake in the 72-acre film production part of the site from joint venture partner Crest Nicholson for £45m. Significant expansion is now on the cards. (Separately, Crest Nicholson still co-owns with Aviva part of the Longcross site which is earmarked for housebuidling.)
The former Ministry of Defence facility has operated as a film studio since 2006, and has partly housed the shoots for films including most recently Paramount’s Mission: Impossible 7 and Marvel/Disney’s Doctor Strange And The Multiverse Of Madness, as well as long-running TV series such as the BBC’s Call The Midwife.
The UK is Netflix’s third biggest production base outside the US and Canada and the company plans to produce $1bn worth of film and TV in the territory in 2021. Productions shot this year include Sex Education, The Witcher, Bridgerton, Anatomy Of A Scandal, Man Vs Bee, Stay Close and Heartstopper.
“The new lease at Longcross highlights our commitment to investing in the UK creative industry and will provide a wealth of opportunities and production jobs, from entry level to heads of department,” said Anna Mallett, vice president, physical production, EMEA/UK, at Netflix, who joined the company from ITN in November 2020.
According to the company, more than 20,000 people are presently working directly on Netflix original productions in the UK. In a statement the company said its “long-term ambition is to be the studio that provides the most training opportunities in the high-end TV and film industry” in the territory.