Axa Investment Managers has struck a €150mn deal to buy a French film studio and expand the site near Paris into one of Europe’s largest filmmaking facilities, as big real estate investors continue to snap up sparse motion picture and television production space.
The real estate arm of the French insurance company has agreed to purchase Bry-sur-Marne Studios, east of Paris, which produced director Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film Marie Antoinette, one of the Hunger Games series and this year’s screen adaptation of Astérix et Obélix.
Film studios have emerged as a popular niche for real estate investors as they look for opportunities outside traditional sectors such as offices and retail, which are suffering from post-Covid trends towards online working and shopping.
Investors say the rise of streaming services such as Netflix has boosted demand for studio space, which is in short supply — especially near large cities.
“Film studio space is still lagging behind, notably in Europe,” said Louis Leveillé Nizerolle, head of transactions for France at Axa IM Alts. “We have conviction that it will be a long-lasting trend.”
He said the studio should benefit from pressure on streamers to invest in domestic production in European countries, and that the facility would ultimately aim to compete with the UK for international productions.
British production companies are expecting to use more studio space in the coming year to keep up with demand, according to research by real estate advisers CBRE.
“The recent growth in the industry has meant the demand for production space is high and outweighs the available supply,” CBRE said.
Axa said it was planning a “significant development programme” across the 12-hectare site it acquired from developer Nexity, which will more than double the studio’s production capacity to create “one of the largest studios in continental Europe”.
The French investor’s first foray into the studio sector follows moves by other big asset managers in recent years. Blackstone and Hudson Pacific Properties, a US-based studio and office investor, in 2021 acquired a 91-acre site in Broxbourne, north of London, in a £700mn project to create a new studio.
However, the new investment by Axa comes at a time when streamers and other content producers are expected to sharply slow original TV production as they try to control costs and weather an economic downturn.
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