Netflix's first Belfast production expected to be worth £30 million for economy

L-R: Economy Minister Diane Dodds and ‘The School for Good and Evil’ producer Stephen Jones on set with NI Screen's Rotha Johnston and Richard Williams.
Ryan McAleer

NETFLIX'S new production in Belfast is expected to bring a £30 million windfall for the local economy, Northern Ireland Screen has said.

Around 500 crew will be involved in the 20-week production of ‘The School for Good and Evil', which started filming on location in the north last month.

Pre-production has been ongoing since January.

Based on the best-selling novels of the same name by author Soman Chainani, the fantasy drama has set up base at Belfast Harbour Studios.

The American author was among those on set this week.

It's understood that Loop Studios on the Castlereagh Road is also being used for Netflix's first major production in Belfast.

Slated for release next year, the film is being directed by Paul Feig (Ghostbusters and Bridesmaids), and stars Charlize Theron, Laurence Fishburne, Michelle Yeoh and Kerry Washington

The screen adaptation follows a group of girls and boys who are taken to an institution and trained to become fairy tale-like heroes and villains.

Roth Films, which has made live-action fairy tales such as Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland and Snow White and the Huntsman, is behind the Belfast production.

With six books in the series, a well-received launch in 2022 could spawn sequel productions for the city's burgeoning film industry.

Belfast Harbour has already been given the green light for a £45m expansion of its studio complex, while Loop Studios, owned by the LCC Group, has unveiled its intentions to expand its operation.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds, who visited the set at Belfast Harbour Studios this week, said the production for Netflix had helped re-energise the creativity and vibrancy of the local screen industries.

“Northern Ireland has established itself as a highly desirable filming location, not only for our diverse, beautiful and accessible locations, but also because of the outstanding skills base we have built here,” she said.

“This production by Netflix will be in Northern Ireland for at least 20 weeks, and Northern Ireland Screen estimates that it will generate investment of approximately £30m. Around 500 NI-resident crew are working on the film.

“The local industry has risen and adapted to the significant challenges posed by Covid and continues to thrive, with support from Northern Ireland Screen. I commend the efforts of all involved and wish ‘The School for Good and Evil' every success when it hits screens around the world.”

Chief executive of Northern Ireland Screen, Richard Williams, said: “Netflix is the world's largest subscription streaming service with millions of subscribers worldwide and an outstanding track record for offering very high quality, original programming.

“For a global player like this to choose Belfast as its base is a real vote of confidence in Northern Ireland's screen industry and further cements our reputation as a leading centre for film and television production.”

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