Star Wars Studio Elstree At Risk Over $250 Million Funding Gap, Owner Considering All Options

A report has laid bare the challenges faced by Elstree Film Studios, best known as the home of the original “Star Wars” films.

The studio, which is owned and operated by Hertsmere Council, requires a cash injection of £150-200 million (up to $255 million) to “replace life expired buildings and ensure its competitiveness beyond the 21st century.”

Last summer, during the replacement of some studio doors, asbestos was found in three soundstages as well as other buildings, which required remediation work. During that work, the contractor reported that some of the roof structures and walls were in a “dangerous” state, with some concrete beams dating back to the 1960s and ‘80s having already snapped.

The report also states that flooring, windows, electrical wiring and mechanical plants needs to be replaced and the IT infrastructure needs to be upgraded.

It proposes the council hire a film consultant at a tune of £90,000 to advise on the best way forward because, according to the report, neither the council nor the studios have the funds to carry out the necessary works.

Other options including seeking external investors, leasing the studio out longterm or potentially even re-developing the site. The report says the site of the studios is worth between £40-100 million for residential use while the Elstree Film Studios brand is “worth a substantial sum.”

According to the report, revenues from the studio account for 20% of the council’s ongoing revenue budget. But it says Hertsmere cannot continue to invest in the studio because it “needs to diversify its investment to mitigate financial risk to its local tax payers in the event of a downturn in the film industry.”

It is therefore important, the report continues, the council begins “exploring alternative options aided by an external consultant.”

Hertsmere Council is set to discuss the report at a meeting next week.

The report shines a light on the varying state of the U.K.’s production facilities. Whilst a number of new studios have sprung up in recent years – including Sky Studios Elstree, just down the road – others require an overhaul. In 2020, Netflix filed a lawsuit against nearby Neasden Studios, where it had been filming “Bridgerton,” citing asbestos and falling ceiling tiles, the Evening Standard reported.

Elstree Studios was founded just outside London in the 1920s and as well as iconic movies such as “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” it has in recent years played host to high-end dramas such as “The Crown” and “Gangs of London.”

Reps for Hertsmere Council and Elstree Film Studios did not respond by press time.

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