Oxford-based Rebellion Developments Ltd – primarily known for being a console game developer, but also the owner of 2000 AD – have announced plans to turn the former £78m ($100m) Daily Mail printing press in Didcot, Oxfordshire into a massive, super-modern film and TV studio.
The fact that it’s a former Daily Mail printing press makes it feel like…an old ICBM silo being turned into something productive and positive.
Rebellion purchased 2000 AD 18 years ago and since then, the 25-year old company owned by brothers Jason and Chris Kingsley has only really made token gestures to expand the 2000 AD universe including the Rogue Trooper game in 2006 and the Alex Garland Dredd movie in 2012.
However, every 2000 AD fan across the world is now officially getting excited that this will enable the Mega-City One TV series to actually be made.
Six soundstages will be available at the 220,000 sq ft (67,000 sq m) site, creating 500 jobs and it’s currently slated to open for business in the Spring.
CEO Jason Kingsley – who was awarded an OBE by the Queen for his services to the British economy in 2012 – called the purchase “incredibly” exciting and said the “booming” film industry was in “desperate need of further infrastructure to cope with the demands for new and engaging content”.
He added: “We know first-hand the creativity and talent here in the UK and this new studio will bring in projects from all over the world, offering opportunity and income to many people in the industry.”
Chief technology officer Chris Kingsley said: “Our creative industries are appealing to other markets for our talent and generous tax reliefs – and we must ensure we have the studio space and infrastructure to keep furthering this ongoing growth.”
Pinewood, Britain’s world-famous studio used to film Star Wars and James Bond, is this year operating at nearly 100% occupancy across all its sites and warned investors that “demand for production space continues to exceed capacity”.
Netflix recently flagged the issue, warning: “We would like to be able to produce more in the UK. However, we are limited by the lack of available space.”
The squeeze is also leaving billions on the table as, by some estimates, the UK is short some 1,900,000 sq ft of studio space.
“I was told by Pinewood that there isn’t any space left and there won’t be any space for a few years,” Jason Kingsley told Forbes.
The Kingsley brothers have apparently rejected a multitude of offers for the rights to take the characters from 2000 AD to the big screen, insisting that they retain the creative rights – and after the 1995 abortion starring Sylvester Stallone, which was made before they owned 2000 AD, who can blame them. Jason and Chris were producers on the vastly underrated 2012 film Dredd starring Karl Urban who has expressed an interest in picking up the role once again.
Recently, Rebellion acquired all former Dredd publisher Fleetway/IPC’s titles and artwork archives and a major acquisition from TI Media (formerly IPC), giving what they describe as the largest English language comic book properties amassed under one roof.
While 2000 AD is not as big as Marvel or DC in terms of dollar value – it has the potential to be. It’s an entire universe full of rich and interesting characters that could easily become the next big comic-to-movie mega-money franchise.
Scott Snowden is MyM’s US Editor. Follow him on Twitter.
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