One of Britain’s most iconic film studios will be the permanent production base for Netflix, the world’s major streaming service. Shepperton Studios, owned by Pinewood, was the location for such franchises as Harry Potter, The Omen, Alien and dozens of other films and TV shows over the years. It’s 14 sound stages will, from October, form the core Netflix location for the planned $13 billion annual UK production budget.
Good news for our film makers, a testament to the skills and commitment of those responsible for bringing along generations of young professionals, not forgetting their valuable contribution to the UK exchequer. More streamers, incentivised with UK tax rebates, plenty-full technical and artistic talent and a pleasant living environment will vie for studio space here. Deep pockets will enable them to share the action, Amazon and Disney are the nearest contenders. How many monthly streaming subscriptions can a family buy? Will there be a fight for subscribers causing prices drops, quality drops and production and artistic constraints when the going gets tough?
So, how does all this affect our own independent film sector? As expected, a decline caused by a shortage of funding and an inability to match the ‘streamers’ pay packets are likely to affect budgets. In Britain, the BBC Film budget of £11m and the British Film Institute’s £15m look like small change but not all is lost. Adding dozens of new funding streams to those tried and tested, with many creatives and technicians willing to fit independent productions into their busy schedules, we will return our distinctly different style of film-making to good health.
You may ask: what about the High Street cinemas? Experts are none too happy. We are awaiting the latest figures.