10 September 2015

Plans for new £10m film studio in Belfast a boost to movie industry


Belfast’s burgeoning movie business is set for a major boost with plans for yet another film studio worth £10m now in the works.

Fresh tenders have been issued to find contractors to build at least one 40,000 sq ft development with a “potential 20,000 sq ft extension”.

The development – which is being termed the Belfast Harbour Studio – is set to be built on the Belfast Harbour estate.

The new facility is also set to include office accommodation and additional “ancillary space”.

It is understood the contract is worth around £10m, with construction due to take around eight months. Those behind the project haven’t yet specified where the latest studio development will sit on the harbour estate’s vast 2,000-acre site.

A spokesperson for Belfast Harbour told the Belfast Telegraph: “Given the success of Northern Ireland as a film and television production destination there is significant demand to enhance the amount of studio space available in Belfast.

“Belfast Harbour is looking at a number of options to support this successful industry and the wider economy as a whole.”

But the new development could end up competing with two other proposed film studios which were given the planning green light this time last year.

Planning was given the go-ahead in August 2014 after a submission by Titanic Quarter Ltd.

Those studios are set to be designed by Todd Architects, and are planned on former industrial land located across Queen’s Road from the existing studios.

No objections were received over the initial application.

It’s not yet clear how far along that project is.

At the time, Environment Minister Mark Durkan said it would “put Belfast on the map as one of Europe’s largest film production locations”. Those planned builds are set to double the existing production space at the Titanic Studios, which incorporates Harland & Wolff shipyard’s former Paint Hall building.

There are already several studios in the area, many of which have been used for films and television work. That includes fantasy epic Game of Thrones, which has continued to use the facilities along with much of Northern Ireland’s beauty spots as a backdrop for filming.

The current Titanic Studios are set on an eight-acre site on the eastern bank of the River Lagan.

It’s home to the original Paint Hall studio and the Hurst and MacQuitty stages. The main studio contains four 90ft tall cells set out in a square and connected by an internal road and streets.

The 2007 City Of Ember, starring Bill Murray and Saoirse Ronan (above), was the first major production filmed in the studios.

And two years later, US production company HBO arrived and has gone on to shoot several seasons of Games of Thrones there, and at various outdoor locations across Northern Ireland.

The success of the series, combined with financial production incentives offered by government-backed agency Northern Ireland Screen, has prompted more and more film-makers to choose the city as a location.

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