Grange Castle Media Park, a €125m film and TV studio complex planned for Dublin, will target films and streaming platform productions with budgets of around €100m plus.
Irish movie producer Alan Moloney, who was executive producer of Brooklyn, starring Saoirse Ronan, said that the facility would be able to accommodate three or four large-scale projects at a time. This would suggest that productions worth several hundred-million euro could be made there annually.
"Our ambition is to be the best studio in the world, we want the very best film makers and the very best broadcasters and programming," he told the Sunday Independent in a Zoom call with several of the project's high-profile backers.
"And that is the market we are going for. The nature of television has changed, costs have changed there... that sort of profile of show at that level is what we're looking for and frankly what we're designed to cater for."
Moloney is one of the backers of the project through entity Lens Media, which also includes James Morris, the founder of Windmill Lane Pictures, and US-based producer Gary Levinsohn, who is known for projects such as Saving Private Ryan and Jack Reacher.
Other backers include high-end real estate company Plus Development, owned by Irishmen Christopher Carlin and Tyrone McKillen.
Also backing the project are well-established financiers and entrepreneurs Matt and David Cooper. Their father, Milton Cooper, has been dubbed 'The Godfather of the Reit' and is considered to have been the founding father of the 'real-estate investment trust' industry.
Carlin said the plan is to submit their planning application for the project in the fourth-quarter of the year with an aim to begin building in early 2021. "We are thinking mid-2022 would be a reasonable time to kick off the business." He said they plan to "hit the ground running" with indigenous and international production projects.
McKillen, whose father is the well-known businessman Paddy McKillen, said: "Chris and I live adjacent to Hollywood and we are building our headquarters in the media district in Hollywood. We've witnessed it first-hand and watched the industry grow and that's initially what attracted us to the opportunity."
The Cooper brothers and Plus Development have joint ventures on more than a half-dozen projects, including two office towers at 1000 Seward Street and 1235 N Vine Street, both in Hollywood. The two office towers are expected to cater to the entertainment industry. “We are partnering with Matt (Cooper) and his team developing several large office buildings in Hollywood. And we lease buildings to the likes of Netflix,” McKillen said.
Carlin added that the equity was in place for Grange Castle, but said “we are having ongoing conversations with other interested parties”.
Levinsohn said Ireland’s section 481 tax break was a positive, despite criticism in recent years. “It’s been around in Ireland for almost 25 years so if I am the kind of person who is financing something in excess of €100m, I want to know there is a dependable, scheme that is reliable, I understand what it is.”
The backers of Grange Castle Media Park said they welcomed news last week that another studio is being planned for Greystones. “The bigger the sector, the stronger for everybody,” said Morris.
He said the Dublin project could play a role in establishing Ireland as a creative hub.
“If you look at Montreal, they built studios 20 years ago and it’s a city roughly the size of greater Dublin. From those studios a whole creative ecology grew up which now employs 35,000 people. So it is not actually fanciful to see this as a catalyst project.”
It will employ 1,800 people directly and 1,800 ancillary jobs. Morris said training and education is part of the appeal of the project, which also will be able to cater for digital production and gaming projects. Cooper said the backers had a huge array of connections with the film and television community.
It already has a partnership with Creative Artists Agency, one of the most important agencies in Hollywood, representing Stephen Spielberg and dozens of Oscar-winning actors.
Sunday Indo Business