Simon Cowell will be cheering. The film studios which inspired him to go into showbiz is thinking big like Cowell himself.

Elstree Studios is looking to expand its capacity with two new soundstages following a two year block booking by Warner Bros for Hollywood blockbusters. 

The £10 million  expansion  will add a 15,000-square-foot stage and a second up to 30,000-square-feet.

Save The British Film Industry members all know that  it sold off its backlot to TESCOS to be a supermarket  having been home to STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES in the 1970s and early 80s.

It is said to have launched Simon Cowell onto the path to superstardom as he  lived as a boy near Elstree. Stories abound that he was a runner there, and had coffee with Jack Nicholson and Oliver Reed at the peak of their fame.

Elstree  has recently hosted “BIG BROTHER”, “DANCING ON ICE”, “WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE” as well as movies with John Cushack. Michael Caine and Eric Bana. ‘KICK ASS’ was filmed there and love it or hate it, it did rather well at the box office..

Former Warner Bros Head of Studio in the 1990s, turned prolific Indie Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, loves Elstree and the family atmosphere. 

The managing director of Elstree Studios, said the studio’s forward order book now includes more feature films this year than in each of the past ten.

SHERLOCK HOLMES  2 will be filmed there this month. Maybe now it is not head to head with AVATAR, it will do better than the $499 million at the cinema of the original Robert Downey Jnr and Jude Law movie.

Elstree is near to  Leavesden which in two years time after it is refurbished will be Warner Bros  EU Studio HQ.

The studios  is in attitude set to take on Pinewood-Shepperton and unlike the latter, it is focused on British based film making. The council owners want film making, glamour, jobs, Hollywood investment, gentrification of the area which Hollywood brings (top restaurants, shops, hotels). They will not sell out for flats, houses, etc

Their problem is space, but we have a solution.

Elstree needs planning permission (which this time we hope they get and will write letters in support) and will then still be under 15% the size of Pinewood studios, and under 25% Shepperton. But it is showing that if you are serious about film making facilities that you can create astonishing employment. It may expand further and deserves Government support…at least moral support.

Five hotels were recently built near Elstree and there is much more business investment as all businesses such as  the media marketing juice which the film industry brings…for example a magazine article on Company X will say “Its HQ is just next to Elstree Studios where Robert Downey JNr filmed Sherlock Holmes 2” etc..

Who knows 007 might be filmed there in the near-ish future. Maybe James Bond 23 if it ever gets filmed.

Great credit should go to The Elstree MD, who earns half of what most UK Film Council fat cat bureaucrats were earning before the wise and just decision to axe them. He earns less than The CEOs of the fat cat Regional Screen Commissions who all live in lower cost areas of The UK.  Even between them have not achieved what the man in charge at Elstree has to get people in work in the nation in films. Paying bureaucrats big salaries to administer public funds (mostly Lottery funds) just gets you £300 000 a year rented offices, obscene plane/dinner/hotel bills for the bureaucrats, obscene salaries for 150 people, with only pennies left to put into the films.

Moreover, the bureaucrats REFUSED to get sound stages built around The UK and cheered as Pinewood Shepperton gear up to quit The UK  by selling the right to use their brandname to competitor studios in Germany, Canada, Dominican Republic, Malaysia and get ready for more announcements including China. The Hollywood financed jobs which employ over 85% in the UK film industry will not be in The UK, unless Elstree or others  can build more sound stage capacity.

Hertsmere Borough Council who own Elstree were the only ones who kept Elstree in existence as sound stages at all.

When private owners wanted to turn the studios into houses, flats, offices for a quick property asset strip…the council stepped in and stopped it. They went to court, bought the studios, own the studios, will not sell them unless to dedicated film makers, and are putting themselves at the forefront of  private sector investment.

They get it. You need SOUND STAGES to get $100 million to $300 million Hollywood Studio budgets. You need to build the hardware to get the business, investment, jobs, glamour  and PROFILE.

Ok so it takes a £20 million investment to build the 6 sound stages (which look like factory warehouses) which you need to get Hollywood work. An ideal for a typical town is 8 to 10. It takes 10 to 20 acres. But the investment rewards are immense once the first Hollywood production rents the studio and starts hiring. Towns like Walsall, Swindon, Stamford, Bournemouth, Dudley, Ewloe, Telford, Montrose, and cities like Chester, Stoke, Sheffield, Derby, Lichfield, Coventry, could do this easily.  Bigger cities such as Birmingham could comfortably build 100 sound stages which would be double Pinewood-Shepperton-Elstree-Ealing combined.  Given The Birmingham NEC is haemoraging work and rarely now at capacity, in a few years they may have to look at this option for The NEC. But in the meantime they only have about fifty viable options from Longbridge to Star City.

Very well done Hertsmere Borough Council for being the exception which proves the rule. When will other towns and cities wake up.

Looks like your MD is earning his salary.

Now if  Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Swindon, Liverpool, Wolverhampton, Glasgow, Chester, Leeds, Leicester, Bournemouth, Stamford,  Exeter, Plymouth, Derry, Norwich, Ipswich, Newcastle, Sunderland, Oxford, Cambridge, Stratford-on-Avon, Warwick, Coventry, Nantwich, Stoke, Marlborough, Cirencester, Cheltenham, Bristol, Bath  will please take note.

If  David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne, Vince Cable, Ed Vaizey, David Milliband, Ed Milliband will please take urgent note.

You did not need The Film quangos..mostly fatcat non-jobs screwing the taxpayer. You are starting to get rid of them.

You do not need Regional Screen Agencies whose bosses have bigger salaries than The MD of Elstree Studios !

You need sound stages on 10-20 acres of land in your city, town.

The Hollywood and other finance for films will then flow into your City and town. Just ask Elstree.

Please take urgent note.

Cut all the remaining  film quango non-jobs. Save hundreds of millions. Build sound stages across the UK. The private sector will then create the jobs.

If you really really want a £25 billion a year film, TV, tourism, gaming, merchandising industry pay lots of tax…build Project Pinewood BIG AND BOLD across The UK.

But even if that is too big for now…just build the sound stages and the investment will come !

If you want Hollywood stars and film jobs in your town, you need factory warehouses. Enjoy the Elstree Studios tour:










Jonathan Stuart-Brown



  1. More stages means more opportunities for aspiring artists and it lends itself to providing us with much more entertainment!

  2. The NEC has lost work for many, many years. There are still some big shows (The Clothers Show Live and Crufts) but many of the big events like the Motor Show have been exported to London – maybe we have the likes of Jeremy Clarkson to partly blame for that! It has also been reported that the NEC is now making a loss.

    The NEC is a collection of exhibition halls of various sizes. These when vacant could just as easily be used as television studios (a studio effectively being a large hall) – either for recording programmes with audiences (the likes of Who Wants to be a Millionaire or Mock the Week) or the interior scenes for dramas. This sounds like a business opportunity for the NEC which should be grasped with both hands, especially if the facilities could be offered to the broadcasting industry for a cheaper rate than the likes of Pinewood and the studios around London….

  3. Hi Kevin,
    We have spoken to the NEC at Birmingham twice in the last year. They are losing £1 million a month because of loss of media juice in the pressroom. The BBC axing Pebble Mill (second biggest TV centre in UK) just 8 miles away, Central and ITV News axing its Birmingham base, the national newspapers all axing their big Hurst Street offices and fulltime staff in the West Midlands, The Birmingham Post, Birmingham Mail, Express & Star closing offices, making hundreds of journalists redundant, news agencies employing 50 staff closing, etc…with now 18 journalists in Tamworth a very long way from The NEC editing and writing over 30 local papers, well The NEC gets no media coverage so conferences do not book it.
    YET it is a magnificent facility, utterly perfect for a Pinewood or Elstree expansion, or Hollywood Studio buy out. It is fifty times better than Leavsden.
    We even got a film consortium with films and distribution for three years to look at it, but they were told NO PART IS FOR SALE ! The only offer was 8 week leases for shoots in between Crufts, Clothes Show etc when full capacity is needed.
    We will keep trying. The NEC is a great facility, with great staff, but unless part is handed over to Film and/or TV production fulltime, then the whole thing is in jeopordy over the next few years.
    please keep your thoughts coming, and of course as Mike Whitby Head of Birmingham CC owns The NEC, do give the great leader an email, letter, phone call. He does not get it at all but with pressure from the public, even he may stir himself up and when Mike whitby wants, he can get big things done.

  4. […] Shepperton a grocery shopping mall, then maybe you will realise you have been played for a punk. http://www.savethebritishfilmindustry.com/2010/07/simon-cowell-would-approve-as-elstree-studios-expa… At least The UK will have Elstree Studios which Hollywood has hired out for 2 years and there is no […]

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