Entertainment

Dungeons And Dragons to start filming at Belfast's Titanic Studios

Richard Williams, chief executive of Northern Ireland Screen, described the production as a great start to 2021 after a challenging 2020.

A new film adaption of Dungeons And Dragons is set to be filmed in Belfast.

The fantasy classic is set to start shooting at Titanic Studios early in the new year.

It will come as a “great start” to 2021 following what the chief executive of NI Screen described as an “extremely challenging” year with the coronavirus pandemic.

Line of Duty sixth series filming in Belfast
Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar on the set of the sixth series of Line Of Duty, which filmed in the Cathedral Quarter, Belfast in 2020 (Liam McBurney/PA)

Richard Williams described 2020 as a year of “staggering resilience” within the screen industry.

“As the year draws to a close, many projects including New Regency’s The Northman and Jed Mecurio’s Line Of Duty have finally wrapped,” he told the PA news agency.

“That all of these projects will reach audiences next year is down to hard work, discipline and determination on the part of the teams behind them.”

Mr Williams described the working environment for screen production as “unrecognisable” from the pre-Covid era.

“But everyone’s willingness to embrace the difficulties, limitations and challenges of working with Covid has meant that the sector has come through 2020 strongly and is well placed to grow again in 2021 and beyond,” he said.

“We already know next year will get off to a great start with Paramount Pictures having leased Titanic Studios as they prepare to shoot a new feature film, Dungeons And Dragons, here.

“While delivery of content was heavily delayed in 2020, the lockdown has reconfirmed the global appetite for good content and with new content in short supply it was enjoyable to see The Fall reach the top of the ratings on Netflix again and Line Of Duty attract a whole new audience to its five-season boxset on the iPlayer.

“It was also great to see Artemis Fowl launch to millions of Disney Plus subscribers around the world.”

James Nesbitt starred in drama Bloodlands for the BBC, which was filmed in Belfast (BBC/PA)

Mr Williams said 2020 got off to a good start with Bloodlands, a major new crime drama for the BBC starring James Nesbitt, filming in and around Belfast and Strangford.

Sci-fi movie Zone 414 starring Guy Pearce also filmed in Belfast, as well as Stranger With A Camera, the debut feature written and directed by Belfast-born filmmaker and artist Oorlagh George.

However, the first lockdown in March saw Robert Eggers’ feature film The Northman, the sixth series of Line Of Duty, Channel 4’s Frank Of Ireland, BBC quiz show Mastermind and many other projects having to suspend production.

But industry workers were not idle, and instead turned their attention to helping others, using their skills to make personal protective equipment, sewing scrubs and driving supplies for the health service.

The Northman
The site where the set of the movie The Northmen is being erected on Torr Head County Antrim, a remote area of Northern Ireland (Niall Carson/PA)

Reviewing the year, NI Screen revealed that lockdown saw more funds made available to allow independent production companies to develop ideas.

This resulted in Stellify Media’s Celebrity Snoop Dogs getting commissioned by Channel 4, as well as Holywood-based Paper Owl producing a “House Time Special” episode of animation Pablo, and Jam Media’s new preschool series Jessy And Nessy.

While TV became the main source of entertainment during lockdown, Derry Girls’ creator Lisa McGee’s The Deceived aired on Channel 5 and drew in two million viewers on its first night, making it the channel’s highest rating launch for a drama commission.

Films made in Northern Ireland were recognised around the world, including Wildfire, the debut feature from Newry-native Cathy Brady starring the late Nika McGuigan, which was screened at Toronto International Film Festival and London Film Festival.

Glenn Leyburn and Lisa Barros d’Sa’s Ordinary Love won Best Film 2020 at the Ifta Awards, which was presented by Martin Scorsese.

Lockdown also saw an 80% increase in engagement with NI Screen’s Digital Film Archive which contains hours of footage from 1897 to the present day.

Meanwhile, the games sector held its own with the announcement that Hypixel Studios, the videogame developer behind upcoming title Hytale, will establish its headquarters in Londonderry as part of its acquisition by US-based developer and publisher Riot Games.

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