Sunderland-born founder of global production company unveils plans for film studios, creating one of Europe’s largest facilities, bringing 8,450 jobs.
FulwellCain Studios, a joint venture between global entertainment company Fulwell 73 and Cain International, has today announced plans for Crown Works Studios in Sunderland, which will be one of the largest filmmaking complexes in Europe, creating some 8,450 jobs across the North East over the next decade.
The plans are being described by city leaders as ‘the single most significant development announcement to come out of the North East in decades’ and will build on Fulwell 73’s existing presence in the city. The JV will spearhead the development of a 1.68m sq ft film industry hub at Pallion, with up to 20 premium sound stages suitable for major feature film and HETV productions. The scheme – which requires support from Government to go ahead – will be delivered in three phases, with work set to start in 2023 and the final phase set to complete by 2027.
Subject to planning processes, Crown Works Studios will stand on land on the banks of the river Wear, which played a critical role throughout the industrial revolution, when the city was a shipbuilding powerhouse.
The studios will be transformational for the city’s economy, cultivating an eco-system on a scale not seen since Nissan’s investment in Sunderland in the 1980s, while meeting the growing demand for studio space in the UK. Upon completion, the scheme could generate £336m for the local economy every year, creating jobs and contract opportunities spanning a vast range of disciplines including the trades and manual skills.
Fulwell 73’s partners; Gabe Turner, Ben Turner, Leo Pearlman, Ben Winston and James Corden issued this joint statement: “We are unified in our belief that there is a unique opportunity to bring further high end production to the UK through this ambitious Sunderland based studio project; putting the region on the map as a global production destination.”
Leo Pearlman, managing partner at Fulwell 73, continued: “Fulwell is a company built on family and the North East is embedded in our DNA. For over 100 years my family had a business here in Sunderland and called this great City home, so to be able to bring Fulwell back to where the inspiration for our global entertainment company began is a truly humbling experience.
Through delivering the studios, we will create a long term production industry infrastructure, attract even more significant high end production to the UK and ensure that future generations of North Eastern talent can develop and prosper at home within the region.”
Crown Works Studios will include provision for production workshops and office space, a vendor village for supply chain businesses, administrative and social facilities, a multi-storey car park and an extensive backlot.
Alison Gwynn, Chief Executive of North East Screen said: “Fulwell’s studio announcement is a world class game changer and builds on the North East’s vision for growing the screen industry. We fully support their ambition, and we will work closely with them to build the skills and infrastructure required, supporting both crew and local businesses to become an important part of the supply chain needed to serve the productions made there.
Their studio will be a global player and will need our regional crew workforce, and the highly experienced world class talent from the region, who had to leave for career progression, to come home. We will also need to develop a new generation of industry-ready entrants, and career changers who can step across in technical and craft areas from other industries. This is a phenomenal opportunity for the people of the North East”
The project is supported by Sunderland City Council, which has brought together a number of key partners to work with the investors to shape plans including around the development of the skills-base needed to support the scheme.
The scheme is in addition to already announced plans for Shipyard Studios which will support a wider cluster of film and media activity.
Councillor Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “These are absolutely unparalleled proposals that – if approved – will reinvent the Sunderland economy, establishing the city as home to a modern and growing industry that will create jobs and opportunities for thousands of people across the North East.
“This is a vote of confidence for the city and its people – recognising Sunderland’s history of innovation and of making things. We have been working on these plans with Fulwell 73 and Cain for many months, so it’s absolutely brilliant to finally be in position to unveil them, and to demonstrate the scale of ambition we have for this city. It’s absolutely transformational and something we’re determined to see through.”
Strong partnerships are being established to ensure that Sunderland reaps maximum advantage from the opportunity – from the job creation it will bring to the economic prosperity it could generate through increased footfall and spend in the heart of the city. These relationships will be key in delivering the skills needed to power the studio and grow a sustainable film and media ecosystem.