Hollywood stars will be heading to Liverpool after one of London’s leading film and TV studios announced plans to open a major new complex in the city.
Twickenham Studios in south-west London has been home to productions ranging from Black Mirror to War Horse.
It will expand with a new £50 million base at the 85,000 sq ft 1930s art deco former Littlewoods headquarters in Liverpool, which was once home to the football pools. Work to turn the former Littlewoods building in Edge Lane into a film studio “Hollywood of the North” could start this summer and be up and running by 2020. This is set to be a game changer for the city and according to economics firm Ekosgen, the project is expected to generate more than 570 jobs and support a further 2000 jobs in the region, providing a £124m boost to the local economy.
The city has become increasingly popular with film-makers and Liverpool Film Office says it is now the most filmed city in the UK outside London.
The film office saw its busiest year ever in 2017, with productions including Fantastic Beasts and the return of Peaky Blinders.
And the office is expecting another busy year in 2018, with police drama Bulletproof filming here already and a TV version of War of the Worlds set to film here.
Twickenham Studios’ Maria Walker said it was “a good fit” for major US films. She added “When we saw the vision for Littlewoods we knew we had to be a part of what was an incredibly special place. Liverpool’s architecture, accessibility and can do attitude sees film -makers return to the city time and time again. With the added benefit of our studios, they’ll have gold-standard facilities right on the doorstep of unique exterior locations. It will be great to see Liverpool become an internstional focal point for TV and film.”
TV shows will also be made on the Littlewoods building’s two new sound stages, and the move comes amid a boom in TV and film production in the UK.
Foreign studios spent £1.9bn in the UK in 2017 – almost double the amount spent four years previously.
Ms Walker, who is chief operating officer of Twickenham Studios, said the Littlewoods building was reminiscent of Los Angeles’ landmark studios.
“It actually looks like a Hollywood studio,” she told BBC News. “It has that right vibe.
In the future Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant’s Oscar-nominated Florence Foster Jenkins – which was partly shot in Twickenham but filmed exterior scenes in Liverpool – could be based solely in the city.
“It’s a good fit for those large American films,” Ms Walker said. “We haven’t got the capacity to build bigger stages. What Liverpool has is space.”
Twickenham Studios will take over 85,000 sq ft of the 300,000 sq ft at the Littlewoods building, with other film and TV companies expected to follow.
Tim Heatley, co-founder of the building’s developers Capital & Centric, said: “Twickenham Studios couldn’t be a better fit.
“They’ll bring a century’s worth of film-making heritage and help to write a new chapter for the creative industries in and around Liverpool.”
Liverpool is well on it’s way to delivering a world-class filming destination for the UK, with one of its most iconic buildings at its heart.