Pinewood Studios to create film-inspired visitor attraction

Pinewood StudiosImage source, Pinewood Group
Image caption,
A £450m expansion to Pinewood Studios will include a visitor experience

The film studio used for the filming of the James Bond and Star Wars franchises has announced plans for a major new visitor attraction.

Pinewood Studios wants to invest in a £450m expansion to its current site, close to Iver Heath in Buckinghamshire, and create about 3,500 jobs.

Screen Hub UK will include the Pinewood Studios Experience, a 350,000 sq ft (32,500 sq m) film-inspired attraction.

The company said it is the "right moment" for a visitor experience.

Films, TV series, adverts and pop promos have been made at Pinewood Studios for more than 80 years.

Blockbusters and much-loved classics have been filmed at the site - from Oliver Twist and the Carry On series, to thriller Alien and several of the Marvel movies.

Last year, Disney signed a deal to take over 20 stages plus other facilities at the complex for at least a decade, an agreement which came two months after Netflix announced it had taken a long-term lease at Pinewood's Shepperton Studios.

Image source, AP Photo/Lucasfilm
Image caption,
The cast read-through of Star Wars: Episode VII at Pinewood Studios in April 2014

The Pinewood Group said Screen Hub UK will be a "screen industries global growth hub" based on a 77-acre site to the south and adjacent to the existing world famous studios.

As well as the visitor attraction it will include new film production facilities with "live" links to the experience. Planning is in the very early stages but this might include visits onto a working set, the company said.

A training and skills hub and a creative industries business growth hub are also planned.

It is estimated that it is likely to generate £230m for the economy and £125m for the tourism industry per year.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The 007 stage is one of the world's largest and was used in Skyfall and Spectre directed by Sam Mendes (R) and starring actor Daniel Craig

Chairman Paul Golding said its plan was a response to the government and the Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership's (LEP) recognition of the studios as a "major economic asset".

In its local industrial strategy, the LEP said it would build its plans around the "future elevation and evolution of our global assets", which include the studios.

"We have been looking at a visitor experience for some time and feel that now is the right moment to bring it forward," Mr Golding said.

"The project will strengthen UK film and bring much needed jobs and spending."

He added that the company hoped that its planning application, which is currently being prepared, would "receive widespread support".

Consultations with the local community and wider stakeholders will begin next week, the group said.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Aerial view of Pinewood in 2015

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