British Film & TV Contacts
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The biggest upturn in 20 years has been sparked by multi-million pound expansions at the UK’s major studios.

Staff on some sets have even had to tell some film-makers there is a waiting list for studio space – with Hollywood producers queueing up to secure a lucrative slot.

Last week Hollywood investment in Britain was boosted when Warner Bros confirmed that it is building three state-of-the-art sound stages at Leavesden, Herts, and expanding the vast studio where it made the Harry Potter films.

Meanwhile, Pinewood Shepperton, home of James Bond, also announced that it almost tripled profits last year and now plans to double its site with a £200million expansion.

Elstree Studios is now so busy that, in the last three years, it has turned away productions which would have been worth £4million

Pinewood is also involved in the building of a new studio in Wales, while the Scottish government is also looking into the investment and expansion of its industry.

Producer David Parfitt, who won an Oscar in 1998 for Shakespeare In Love, said that the demand reflects “amazing confidence in the British film industry”.

In the early 1990s, it appeared to be in a state of ruin, with most major UK successes funded by Americans.

The industry that once nurtured the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Alec Guinness, David Lean and Richard Attenborough, was on its knees.

In 1991, British-financed films attracted only six per cent of all the money spent at the UK box office.

And every film that finished in the Top 20 was bankrolled by Hollywood. But this was rectified to some extent in 1995 with Lottery funding.

Elstree was derelict when it was acquired in 1996 by an entrepreneurial local council, which breathed new life into it – and ploughed back profits into local services.

Things turned around in the late 2000s with the introduction of the UK film tax relief in 2007, to encourage investment in British movies.

Helena Bonham Carter starring in Suffragette [GETTY]

Elstree Studios is now so busy that, in the last three years, it has turned away productions which would have been worth £4million.

A planned multi-million pound expansion of its 15-acre site could double its revenue.

Suffragette – starring Helena Bonham Carter – has just been filmed there and will be released later this year.

Barnaby Thompson, one of the owners of Ealing Studios and a leading producer, said US film company Weinstein was among Hollywood productions to start shooting its film Chef there.

But he said they too had to turn away film-makers because of a lack of space.

Films to be made at Leavesden include a new Tarzan adventure –while the biggest movie in the world, Star Wars: Episode VII, is in production at Pinewood Shepperton.