Sunderland's Fulwell 73 unveils plans for one of Europe's largest filmmaking complexes in city, creating more than 8,000 jobs
Sunderland looks set to become one of the largest filmmaking hubs in Europe in what’s been hailed as “the single most significant development announcement to come out of the North East in decades.”
The banks of the Wear, once home to Sunderland’s powerhouse shipbuilding industry, could be an area of world-renowned expertise once more with the arrival of a series of film and TV studios, bringing 8,450 jobs to the region.
FulwellCain Studios, a joint venture between global entertainment company Fulwell 73, the hugely-successful production company behind Sunderland ‘Til I Die, and Cain International, have announced plans for Crown Works Studios on land stretching up from Pallion Shipyard to left and right of the Northern Spire on the Pallion side.
The joint venture will spearhead the development of a 1.68m sq ft film industry hub at Pallion, with 20 premium sound stages suitable for major feature film and high end TV 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.
The studios, which are subject to planning processes, 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 £336million for the local
economy every year, creating jobs and contract opportunities spanning a vast range of disciplines including the trades and manual skills.
Putting Sunderland on the map
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.”
Sunderland-born 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.
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, to create an underwater studio, 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.
Excellent news for film and TV production in Sunderland
David Bell, The University of Sunderland's Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, said: “This is excellent news for the city and for the University’s highly rated film, TV and creative provision.
"Indeed, the University’s investment and reputation in Film and Photography ranked Sunderland as number one in the recent Guardian University Guide. So, today’s announcement represents an extraordinary opportunity to put the city of Sunderland, the University of Sunderland, and our students and staff at the heart of the international content business.”
Fulwell 73 are, of course, no strangers to Sunderland.
Such is their passion for the city, and SAFC, they named their company after the old Fulwell End and the year Sunderland won the FA Cup. Even their editing suites are named after former players.
The global entertainment company has offices at Sunderland University, London and Los Angeles and has grown to produce some of the world’s most loved
television brands, documentaries, live events, and multi-Emmy award-winning series including: Emmy and Critics Choice Award-winning Apple TV series The Late Late Show with James Corden, Carpool Karaoke, the hit Hulu series The Kardashians and more recently the biggest music awards ceremony in the world, The GRAMMY Awards.
The company is famed for its award winning live shows such as Emmy and Broadcast award winning Adele: One Night Only, Encanto at the Hollywood Bowl and Elton John Live: Farewell from Dodger Stadium. Fulwell is also partnering with FIFA+ to produce an exclusive docuseries of the World Cup Qatar 2022.