Netflix is close to securing a deal to lease space at Pinewood Studios, home to the James Bond and Star Wars franchises, to ensure its growing slate of UK productions can be made without delay.
Netflix, which is understood to be near to signing a 10-year deal with Pinewood, began the hunt for a permanent production base last year, as revealed by the Guardian.
Securing a long lease on studio space is a high priority for the California-based company, which recently indicated its frustrations with the overcrowded UK studio market in a submission backing the expansion of one of Britain’s biggest studio complexes, Shepperton, in Surrey.
Shepperton is also owned by the Pinewood group, and has hosted productions including Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. “We would like to be able to produce more in the UK,” the company said. “However, we are limited by the lack of available space.”
Netflix has 150 million global subscribers, and an estimated 10 million in the UK, and will spend about $13bn-15bn (£10.2bn-11.8bn) making and licensing TV shows and films globally this year.
Netflix and its US streaming rival Amazon are estimated to have spent about £150m on making shows in the UK last year. Netflix made about 40 productions and coproductions in the UK last year and has significantly ramped up its programming slate for 2019.
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This year, Netflix is planning to make or coproduce 221 TV shows and films across Europe, 56% more than the 141 made last year, spending more than $1.5bn. Of the 221 European shows, 153 will be original productions.
Last year, Netflix and Amazon became more popular in terms of subscriber numbers in the UK – more than 15 million combined – than the total number of people signed up with the UK’s pay-TV services, including Sky and Virgin Media. The BBC has admitted that 16- to 24-year-olds now spend more time on Netflix in a week than watching all of BBC TV, including the BBC iPlayer.
Pinewood and Netflix declined to comment.