Video-game company Rebellion, which is moving into film and TV, has bought a large former print works that will be converted into studio space for its highly anticipated Judge Dredd TV series, “Judge Dredd: Mega-City One,” and its Rogue Trooper film, directed by Duncan Jones (“Source Code”). Both projects feature characters from the legendary British comic book series “2000 AD,” which Rebellion bought, appropriately enough, in 2000.
As well as servicing Rebellion’s burgeoning slate of film and TV projects, the studio will also be made available to third parties in a boost for the entertainment industry in Britain, where demand for space is outstripping supply.
The site in Didcot, about 50 miles west of London, was previously a printing press for the Daily Mail newspaper. With large soundproofed spaces already in place, parts of the facility will be ready for use within weeks, without the need to go through the lengthy planning permission process.
Major expansions are underway at Pinewood, Shepperton, Church Fenton and other studios, and there are plans to build new facilities in Liverpool, East London and Leeds. But with its proximity to production bases in London and Bristol, the new Rebellion Studios will provide much-needed additional space now. It boasts an overall area of 220,000 square feet, including a 25,000-square-foot sound stage.
Jason Kingsley, who founded Rebellion with his brother Chris, said the site would be used as a location as well as a studio. He said the site and stages are valued at $100 million. The company expects to create up to 500 new jobs as the new studio gets up and running.
In the gaming world, Rebellion is known for the “Sniper Elite” series and such recent releases as “Strange Brigade.” It has acquired a raft of comic book IP, having bought “2000 AD” from Egmont and, two years ago, the Fleetway and IPC Youth Group archives from the same seller, a deal that handed it titles and characters including “Battle,” “Action” and “Roy of the Rovers.”
Jason Kingsley told Variety that the barriers between different types of screen-based entertainment and storytelling are falling away. “I think we are pretty good at creating content in all different types, screen content and interactive games and all sorts of stuff, and I’m hoping we’re going to be equally good at making TV and film,” he said.
The Kingsleys were producers on the 2012 feature film “Dredd,” and the hard-hitting lawman will return in TV series “Judge Dredd: Mega-City One.” That will be produced by Rebellion Studios, which, with pilot script in hand, is talking to potential broadcast and platform partners. The Rogue Trooper film features the titular blue-skinned, genetically engineered super-soldier, and is being developed in partnership with Duncan Jones and Stuart Fenegan, who are directing and producing, respectively.
Part of the reason for setting up the new studio, which sits near Rebellion’s Oxford base, was a lack of space to pursue these new projects, Kingsley said.
“We’ve got a huge library of good stories, and we’ll do original stuff as well,” Kingsley said. “We make computer games. VFX is an area we are looking at as well. There is a whole bunch of interesting stuff, but you do need the craft skills and you need facilities…and it is hard to find them. We were looking and couldn’t find anywhere to shoot the stuff we have ambitions to do.”
Chris Kingsley noted that the growth in the demand for content from the likes of Netflix and Amazon is an opportunity, but has also presented a challenge in terms of space and facilities. “We’re seeing more big players wanting to get in on the action,” he said. “This is very exciting for the domestic and global film industries, but it’s also meant that our infrastructure is under increasing pressure.”
The Rebellion library covers superheroes but also touches on other genres. Through its acquisition of the TI Media library, it has an archive stretching back 130 years that includes “Comic Cuts,” which dates back to 1888 and is arguably where the term “comic” originated.
“We have plans, we have a lot of scripts in development, we have got a lot of scripts written, we have pilots that are looking for people to work with, we have people going out to the U.S. to talk to the people who are the routes to market,” Jason Kingsley said.