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Elstree to grow 150% with two new stages

LONDON — Elstree Studios, thought near death until a year and a half ago, will expand with two 15,000-square-foot soundstages with 50-foot ceilings, upping the studio’s capacity by 150%.

The expansion, to cost between $6.5 million and $8.5 million, will begin construction in December or January, and is skedded to be completed by October.

The move is being financed with borrowed money from commercial interests, but is guaranteed by the Hertsmere local council, the municipal government that purchased Elstree from its former owner, leisure group Brent Walker, for an undisclosed sum 18 months ago.

Because Hertsmere says — despite interest from unnamed buyers — it intends to retain ownership of the studio, which is located on the outskirts of northwest London, Elstree will become the only publicly owned film studio in Britain.

At present, the facility has three soundstages, two of which are 8,000 square feet. There are also five editing suites and 32 tenants on site reflecting various aspects of the biz.

Neville Reid, who has headed Elstree for the last year, told Daily Variety: “We recognized early on that three soundstages was not sufficient, that it was only sufficient for a mid-sized feature, and we want to be able to accommodate large productions, including those from Hollywood.”

Next year, Elstree will host production of the British sci-fi “Legionnaires.” Current productions include the Sony/Canal Plus feature “Virtual Sexuality,” and a TV version of “Wuthering Heights” for ITV network company LWT.

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