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Real estate investors eye movie industry in Spain, Greece

The real estate of film studios is increasingly appearing on the radar of investors amidst strong demand for studio space in countries, such as Spain and Greece.

The race to produce content among major streaming platforms, from Disney+ to HBO, is pushing up demand for studio space globally. Netflix alone is estimated to have released more original productions in 2019 than the entire TV industry did in 2005.

“From big screen to online – and despite all the various incarnations that the film industry has gone through over the years – the need remains high for a controlled environment to make content,” says Carl Muhlstein, international director based in JLL's Los Angeles office.

The current online content boom is boosting demand for film studios, spilling over into industrial and retail boxes.

North of London, Blackstone and Hudson Pacific Properties are jointly investing £120 million (US$164 million) in land as part of plans for a new £700 million studio facility. The move is the first outside of the U.S. for Sunset Studios, which has hosted both television series and feature films such as La La Land, When Harry Met Sally and Zoolander.

Further down in Europe’s south, Spain and Greece are also getting a piece of the action.

In Madrid, Netflix set up its first European production hub at a 22,000m2 campus in Tres Cantos, that is being developed and managed by Grupo Secuoya, a leader in audiovisual production services. Earlier this year, the Spanish government also unveiled plans to invest $1.9 billion to grow the country’s film and TV production sector by 30 percent by 2025.

The plans will see the bolstering of the country’s audio-visual sector, including film, TV series, short films, advertising, video games and animation, and the creation of a production hub aligned with Spanish culture and tourism post-pandemic.

In Greece, the number of foreign film productions being filmed on its shores have shot up in recent years after the government sweetened incentives.

Just outside of northern Greece’s Thessaloniki, Nu Boyana Film Studios, an affiliate of Millennium Films is building a film studio in a 20 million euro project. The film studio will span 8.3 hectares (83 stremmas), will include eight filming sets, while the filming plateaus will extend across 15,000 square meters, within a total of 25,000 square meters of studio space in total, according to state news agency ANA-MPA.

While many investors in the industry may already be familiar with major film companies and hold interests in major film companies through stocks or bonds, investing in a sector which requires a hands-on approach is “not for everyone,” warns Michael Davis, JLL’s studio lead in UK & Europe.

“It’s a fast-moving, intricate sector – and that requires a deep understanding of the various needs and requirements of film companies,” Davis says. “That said, more asset management and operating platforms with the know-how to partner capital will surely emerge as investors continue to move towards more alternative real estate sectors.”

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