A new film studio in the midlands, which has been hailed as “transformative” for the region, has been given planning approval.
Westmeath County Council has granted planning permission for the Hammerlake Studios project in Mullingar.
The plan to build the film production facility on a 25-acre site at Lough Sheever Business Park is subject to a vote by local councillors in September.
Hammerlake Studios will produce movies and shows for the global market and will contribute to the creation of over 1,000 jobs, with 300 construction staff to be employed during the building phase.
The consortium behind the investment includes Irish and UK film industry experts, who have worked at Universal Pictures, Disney and Troy Studios.
It is expected the first phase of the venture will open in 2024.
“Ours will not just be a functional service oriented working studio, but a destination that delivers everything a production entity will ever need,” said Paul Chesney, Chief Executive Officer, Hammerlake Studios.
“As new broadcast platforms continue to announce international expansion plans, it’s an exciting time to be part of this industry and our chosen destination is primed to be a lead player and preferred option for content makers everywhere.”
The facility will consist of 460,000 square-feet of studio space spread across 25 acres.
Four sound stages will be included in the first phase, with that total reaching 11 by the time the project is completed.
Construction will take place over two phases.
Hammerlake estimates there will be 1,000 production jobs when the project is completed in 2025.
Executives at the studio say the project will have significant benefits for the local economy.
They say the plan is worth an estimated €50 million to the local economy annually, with hospitality and other local services and businesses to benefit.
Mullingar Chamber of Commerce has hailed the project as transformative for the region.
Last year, Screen Ireland said €500 million was spent in the Irish economy across film, television drama, documentary and animation production.
That was the highest spend ever achieved and a 40% increase on the previous record set in 2019.
Around 12,000 people are employed in the sector here and overall, directly and indirectly, it is estimated to be worth €1 billion annually to the Irish economy.
There are a number of major film studios in Ireland including Ardmore in Co Wicklow and Troy in Co Limerick.
The growth in Irish production comes after a busy period in Ireland for international productions and co-productions.
Scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi were filmed in locations including Sceilg Mhichíl in Co Kerry.
In 2020, Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel, starring Matt Damon Ben Affleck, Adam Driver and Jodie Comer, was filmed in several locations, including Cahir Castle, Co Meath and Co Wicklow.
Disney’s Disenchanted, starring Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey and Maya Rudolph, was filmed on location in Co Wicklow and Co Dublin last summer.
“While Ireland has three relatively large studio facilities in the Republic of Ireland, the global demand for studio space has been exceptionally high in recent years,” said Tom Dowling, Director of Development and Studio Operations at Hammerlake Studios.
“Mullingar’s close proximity to Dublin, its excellent road and rail network, the young workforce and the range of quality hotels matched our criteria for the location of our new sustainable and green film campus, while Ireland’s audio-visual sector industry has enormous growth potential, skills and talent development are crucial to its continued success,” he continued.
Hammerlake Studios say they will facilitate a series of information evenings from September to identify people in the Midlands region with a “transferable skillset”.
“Hammerlake Studios presents an incredible opportunity for Mullingar and we can’t wait to start,” said Mr Dowling.