Crown Works Studios: Major film studio set to be built in Sunderland, but how did we get here?

30.11.23 Crown Works Studios Credit: 4D Studio
In his Spring Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced £25million worth of initial funding to develop the riverside site earmarked for the development. Credit: 4D Studio

It's lights, camera, action for one of Europe's biggest film studios which is set to be built in Sunderland.

In his Spring Budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced £25million worth of initial funding to develop the riverside site earmarked for the development.

Those behind the project say it will bring a boost to the local economy as well as putting Sunderland on the map for filmmakers all over the world.

But how did we get to this point and what does it really mean for Wearside?

Credit: Lichfields

February 2023

Production company Fulwell 73 unveiled its plans to build one of Europe's largest film studios in Sunderland.

Fulwell 73 is a British television, film and music production company based in London. It was founded in 2005 by brothers Gabe and Ben Turner, Leo Pearlman, and Ben Winston. James Corden became the fifth full-time partner in January 2017.

It's known for producing Friends: The Reunion, The Kardashians and Netflix hit Sunderland 'Til I Die.

The joint venture between Fulwell 73 and Cain International, known as FulwellCain, will see the partners invest £450 million into the project known as The Crown Works Studios.

Sunderland City Council backed the plans and said it would "reinvent the Sunderland economy" although the plans were subject to Government funding.

The Crown Works Studios, named after a former shipyard on the proposed site, also included 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.

Credit: 4D Studio

June 2023

Fulwell 73 started the consultation process for the Crown Works Studios.

They began working with planning specialist Lichfields collecting feedback to inform a full application for a 154,215 sq. m (1.66m sq. ft.) site near the Northern Spire Bridge.

Credit: Fulwell 73

November 2023

Fulwell 73 submitted plans to Sunderland Council for a £450m film studio to be built on the banks of the River Wear.

It included a 1.68m sq ft film industry hub with 20 premium sound stages suitable for major feature film and HETV productions.

It is expected that the project could create 8,450 jobs, including trades and manual skills, and generate £334m for the local economy every year.

Credit: Pa/ Fulwell 73

March 2024

Ahead of the Chancellor's spring budget, Fulwell 73 called on the Government to deliver up to £20m for each of the next 10 years to the Crown Work Studios a reality.

Leo Pearlman, one of the Fulwell 73 partners, said that the region was "crying out" for government support, and the move could help add billions of pounds to the UK's creative worth.

Days later in his Spring Budget Chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed £25m worth of investment into the redevelopment of the Sunderland Riverside, enabling the building of the Crown Works Studios.

The Chancellor said Sunderland was now going to become "a key part of our creative industry success story".

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