The entertainment streaming giant Netflix will this week unveil a blockbuster deal to rent the bulk of the world-famous Shepperton studios in Surrey as part of its inexorable global expansion.
Sky News has learnt that Netflix plans to announce the agreement alongside Shepperton’s owner Pinewood Group on Friday.
The multi-year lease deal will provide the New York-listed film and television content platform with a new British hub at one of the industry’s most iconic locations.
Sources said on Wednesday that the deal would be hailed as a major boost for the UK’s entertainment industry, paving the way for one of the world’s most prolific investors in original content to establish a long-term base in Britain.
A deal between Pinewood Group and Netflix has been anticipated for more than six months, although – contrary to previous suggestions – it is not thought to include any immediate plan for the US-based company to use the eponymous Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.
Instead, the arrangement is likely to encompass “the majority” of Shepperton’s existing capacity.
Pinewood has been the production base for many of Hollywood’s most famous, and successful blockbusters, including the latest series of Star Wars films and the James Bond movie franchise.
Its sister studios at Shepperton in Surrey were recently used for Universal Pictures’ Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, and Disney’s Mary Poppins Returns, which was released late last year.
Shepperton’s history dates back to 1931, with a slate of famous films such as Ridley Scott’s Alien and A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick.
The financial details of Netflix’s deal to rent production capacity at Shepperton are unlikely to be disclosed.
However, there is little doubt that the deal represents a major coup for Pinewood Group’s owner, the real estate investor Aermont Capital.
Aermont took the company private in 2016 in a deal worth more than £320m following a lengthy, and often turbulent period on London’s junior AIM stock market.
Until its delisting, Pinewood was chaired by Lord Grade, the former BBC chairman and ITV boss.
For Netflix, the landmark deal with Shepperton will provide a further affirmation to challenge the Hollywood studios which have dominated the international film industry for decades.
Details of Netflix’s planned production slate, or the length of its tenure at Shepperton, were unclear on Wednesday.
The company, which is run by chief executive Reed Hastings, now boasts 148 million subscribers globally, according to figures released in March.
Its original film productions have included Birdbox, starring Sandra Bullock, while it counts The Crown and Black Mirror among its hit series.
The rise of Netflix, which has a vast multibillion pound annual content budget, comes amid a reshaping of consumer-facing media industries as traditional broadcasters find their business models subject to increasing disruption.
In the UK, the BBC and ITV have been involved in long-running discussions about the launch of Britbox, an alternative streaming service.
Netflix has been a public backer of the expansion of Shepperton, which will ultimately be increased to a size and standard similar to those of pinewood following the receipt of planning consents.
Pinewood and Aermont declined to comment, while Netflix did not respond to an enquiry seeking comment.