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Region’s titles come together to back film studio plan

Five daily print titles have come together to issue a joint front page plea to the government to back a ‘game-changing’ new film studio project for their region.

North-East dailies The Journal, Chronicle, Northern Echo, Shields Gazette and Sunderland Echo have all splashed today on an appeal to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to help make the £450m Crown Works Studio plan in Sunderland a reality.

It has been estimated that the project, which would see the creation of up to 20 sound stages for use in blockbuster film and TV productions, could create 8,450 jobs.

Editors of the five titles want Mr Hunt to provide financial backing for the project in his Budget to be unveiled next month.


Film company Fulwell 73 – the company behind Netflix football documentary Sunderland ‘Til I Die, the reboot of Byker Grove and a recent Grammy Award-winning Elton John special – has come together with Cain International to develop the project.

It aims to make the North East one of Europe’s top locations for the film and TV sector, bringing stars and other creative talent to the area and creating thousands of jobs across a range of professions.

The campaign has seen the Reach-owned Chronicle and Journal, National World’s Sunderland Echo and Shields Gazette, and Newsquest’s Northern Echo setting aside traditional rivalries.

Today’s front page contained a joint statement from Helen Dalby, audience and content director for Reach North East & Yorkshire, together with individual title editors Graeme Whitfield (The Journal), Sophie Barley (Chronicle), Ross Robertson (Sunderland Echo/Shields Gazette) and Gavin Foster (Northern Echo.)

It read: “The Crown Works Studios plan has the potential to be transformational for Sunderland and the wider North East. It could be the catalyst for growth in the North East creative industries in the same way that the Nissan plant was for the car industry 40 years ago.

“Fulwell 73 and Cain International have developed a plan that has the backing of the whole region, as well as key players in the film and TV world.

“We felt it was only right that the regional media unite our voices to demonstrate the depth of that support in every corner of the North East.

“Politicians of all parties have supported the plans but now is the time for the Government to provide the financial support to back up those warm words. The Crown Works plan is levelling up in action and an opportunity that cannot be squandered.”

Helen told HTFP that the idea for the joint campaign came from the January get-together of the region’s Society of Editors group, which she chairs.

She added: “We may be competitors day to day, but what unites us is a shared sense of pride and passion for what this region stands for, hopes for and knows it is capable of achieving.”