US film company Blackhall to build £150m Reading studios creating 3,000 jobs

The Atlanta-based business said clients such as Disney and Universal called on it to expand into the UK.

A US film company is set to build a £150 million studio in Reading, creating up to 3,000 jobs.

Blackhall Studios, which has seen box office hits such as Venom and Jumanji: The Next Level filmed at its studios, has announced its intention to launch the site in its first expansion outside of the US.

The Atlanta-based business said the expansion plans come after major production clients, such as Disney and Universal, called on it to grow into the UK.

It has confirmed plans to open the site at the Thames Valley Science Park, owned by the University of Reading, following talks with the Department for International Trade (DIT) over the past year.

Jumanji The Next Level UK Premiere – London
Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Dwayne Johnson, was filmed at a Blackhall Studios site (Matt Crossick/PA)

The DIT said that, once operational, the studio is “expected to be worth £500 million to the UK’s economy each year”.

Ryan Millsap, chairman and chief executive of Blackhall, said: “We are excited to be establishing a base in the UK.

“Blackhall is the global standard for entertainment production space and our US-based clients like Disney, Universal and Sony are all asking us to expand into the UK to meet their desire to create productions here.

“We are very excited about the prospect of investing in the UK creative industries as one of the most vibrant markets in the world.”

It is expected to create up to 3,000 jobs, with 1,500 employed directly at the studio site, with roles ranging from set-building to film production.

Liz Truss, Secretary of State for International Trade, said: “The UK and the US are each other’s largest investors, and this announcement demonstrates the strength of our trading relationship, which benefits all sectors and regions in the UK.

“Blackhall’s commitment is a strong endorsement of our creative industry and the great creatives that work in UK film, and is set to deliver hundreds of new jobs in the area.”

The announcement is the latest investment in the UK’s film industry and comes months after Netflix said it is creating a dedicated production hub at Shepperton Studios.

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and the British Film Commission, said: “The booming film and TV industries continue to demonstrate unprecedented growth and in 2019 inward investment spend from major international productions topped £3.04 billion.

“The Blackhall Studios development will be a fantastic and hugely significant addition to this, allowing for even more content creation.”

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