Liverpool aims to become ‘Hollywood of the North’ with new film studios

Batman filming in Liverpool Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Liverpool is aiming to become the Hollywood of the north of England with the opening of new film studios, predicted to bring a multimillion-pound boost to the economy.

The city, which provides a backdrop to Peaky Blinders and upcoming film The Batman, is experiencing its busiest period on record for film and TV production and it is hoped the opening of purpose-built units The Depot will help with its recovery following the coronavirus pandemic.

The 20,000sq ft sound-proofed film and TV production units, situated opposite the former Littlewoods Pools building in the Kensington area of the city, are predicted to bring a £24 million economic boost to the regional economy, as well as creating 360 new jobs and 760 indirect jobs.

A stuntman stands on top of The Royal Liver Building in Liverpool Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Metro mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotheram said: “Our ambitious plans are to help make our region the Hollywood of the North, and we have already invested £17 million to develop film studios at Littlewoods, which will help us cater for productions from writing and filming, right the way through to editing and post-production.

“Our heritage, architecture, talent and people have always helped us to attract film and TV productions from across the globe. These new facilities will help us keep them here and offer the full package to productions, from providing stunning filming backdrops to the more technical editing and recording work.”

Last year, locals watched a Batman stunt double take to the top of the Liver Building as actors Robert Pattinson and Colin Farrell arrived in town for filming of the blockbuster, due for release in 2022.

Actors Robert Carlyle and Samuel L Jackson filmed The 51st State in Liverpool Credit: PA

The city has previously doubled up as New York for productions including Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Channel 4 hit series It’s A Sin.

It was also the location for 2001 film The 51st State, inspiring star Samuel L Jackson to become a supporter of Liverpool Football Club.

Head of Liverpool Film Office Lynn Saunders said: “We’ve been campaigning for studio space since before Samuel L Jackson was running round the city in a kilt!

“Over those years we’ve gotten very creative around providing alternatives to productions who need more than our region’s locations – but to now be able to actually show off two enormous purpose-built structures, that will be filled with crews and stars, filmmakers can really unleash all their creativity in Liverpool.”

Gemma Arterton at the UK premiere of 2019 film Radioactive Credit: Lauren Hurley/PA

The city is currently hosting Sky’s Funny Girl, starring Gemma Arterton, and Channel 4 comedy drama The Curse.

Writer Jimmy McGovern, whose prison drama Time was part-financed by the Liverpool City Region Production Fund, said: “These new studios will be a huge shot in the arm for the sector and especially for the hugely talented army of people who make the magic happen off-screen, as they will save a lot of time wasted having to travel to other studios elsewhere.”

Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said: “The Depot is a great example of how Liverpool is maximising its potential to fuel its recovery from the pandemic.

“Of course, we all love it when a blockbuster comes to town but what I really love is how our Film Office is going to be able use these facilities not just to attract more productions, for longer, but to develop more apprenticeships and job opportunities to further enhance the city’s skills base in the sector.