The Warner Horizon-produced series has occupied the full site, which currently has two stages, since it opened in 2017. The landowners had signaled that they wanted to expand, and Variety has learned that plans for the next phase of growth call for adding six new 20,000-square-foot stages. There will also be extensive workshops and offices.
The Belfast Harbour Commissioners has a lease on the land and is developing 28 acres in all for the studio. The plans need the consent of local authorities, but that is likely to be forthcoming given the success of the first phase, the boost to Northern Ireland’s creative sector and wider economic benefits.
Assuming approval of the project, work is expected to begin next March, with the new stages ready in the spring of 2021.
Northern Ireland has earned a solid reputation as a base for filming, given “Game of Thrones” and other series shooting at Titanic Studios and “Krypton” at the Belfast Harbour site.
Former Pinewood exec Nick Smith, who has been involved in several big studio projects in the U.K., was a consultant on the Belfast Harbour development. Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen, said the expansion would provide a significant further boost for the local industry.
“Belfast Harbour Commission is an incredible partner that delivers every time,” he said. “Their support for the screen industries in Northern Ireland is exemplary, and their vision for phase two of Belfast Harbour Studios is inspired. This is a fantastic and timely development that will help Northern Ireland to become the largest screen sector in the U.K. and Ireland outside of the southeast of England.”
With generous tax breaks, solid infrastructure and a skilled workforce, the U.K. is an increasingly popular base for high-end TV projects, as well as blockbuster feature films. The increase in production has strained resources, and several new studios are in the works to meet demand.