Hollywood films to find home in Liverpool's former Littlewoods Pools HQ

An artist's impression of how the complex will look

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Capital & Centric

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An artist’s impression of how the complex will look

Hollywood stars will be filming in Liverpool after one of London’s leading movie and TV studios announced plans to open a major new complex in the city.

Twickenham Studios in south-west London has been home to productions ranging from Black Mirror to War Horse.

It will expand with a new base at the 1930s art deco former Littlewoods headquarters in Liverpool, which was once home to the football pools.

Twickenham Studios’ Maria Walker said it was “a good fit” for major US films.

TV shows will also be made on the Littlewoods building’s two new sound stages, and the move comes amid a boom in TV and film production in the UK.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was partly shot in Liverpool

Foreign studios spent £1.7bn in the UK in 2017 – almost double the amount spent four years previously.

Many recent films and shows – including Peaky Blinders and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them – have used outdoor locations in Liverpool.

Ms Walker, who is chief operating officer of Twickenham Studios, said the Littlewoods building was reminiscent of Los Angeles’ landmark studios.

“It actually looks like a Hollywood studio,” she told BBC News. “It has that right vibe.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the studios in Hollywood, studios like the Paramount building – they are not dissimilar. They are white stucco buildings from that period.”

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Capital & Centric

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The Littlewoods building has been empty since 2003

In future, films like Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant’s Oscar-nominated Florence Foster Jenkins – which was partly shot in Twickenham but filmed exterior scenes in Liverpool – could be based solely in the city.

“It’s a good fit for those large American films,” Ms Walker said. “We haven’t got the capacity to build bigger stages [in Twickenham]. What Liverpool has is space. We’re restricted in that area.”

She said the volume of film work in the UK had grown “exponentially” in the last 10 years. But Twickenham Studios, which was founded in 1913, has no space to grow.

“There are houses all around so we can’t expand,” she said. “It’s just not feasible, and property in London is at a premium. A stage needs a lot of space and there’s only a certain amount you can charge.

“So areas such as Liverpool, where you have got the space and the flexibility to expand, it just seems like a natural thing.”

Twickenham Studios will take over 85,000 sq ft of the 300,000 sq ft at the Littlewoods building, with other film and TV companies expected to follow.

Tim Heatley, co-founder of the building’s developers Capital & Centric, said: “Twickenham Studios couldn’t be a better fit.

“They’ll bring a century’s worth of film-making heritage and help to write a new chapter for the creative industries in and around Liverpool.”

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