Axa IM Alts’ deal to gain from growing need for studio space

[Image: Avel Chuklanov/Unsplash.]

Axa IM Alts has acquired 12 hectares of land, including one of France’s largest film and series studios, in the eastern suburbs of Paris.

The property, at Bry-sur-Marne and Villiers-sur-Marne, Paris, has been acquired from Nexity on behalf of one of Axa IM Alts’ clients.

The transaction is Axa IM Alts’ first in the fast-growing studio sector, where rapid growth in demand for original content from broadcasters and streaming services, as well as continued demand for feature film content, is underpinning increasing global demand for purpose-built studio space.

Axa IM Alts said that the studio sector is characterised by a critical shortage of suitable space, which is being exacerbated by land constraints in and around major European cities, as well as by rising energy and construction costs.

Axa IM Alts is planning significant development on the site to more than double production capacity and create one of the largest studios in Continental Europe.

Bry-sur-Marne studios currently has about 5,600 sq m of studio space with eight stages, ranging from 300 sq m to 1,100 sq m, in addition to 20,000 sq m of production accommodation comprising workshops, offices, assembling sets and costume and artist dressing rooms.

The studios will be managed by Guillaume de Menthon, former CEO of Telfrance, one of France’s leading fiction production groups.

Axa IM Alts’ global co-head of real estate John O’Driscoll said that it was a rare opportunity to acquire one of the largest studios in France and that such consolidated sites which can house the entire content production ecosystem, are essential in accelerating the decarbonisation of the film industry. “We have ambitions to significantly scale our studios real estate platform,” he added.

Expectations of increased demand for UK studio space: CBRE

There is similar demand in the UK and in a recent survey of 100 senior Film & TV industry professionals CBRE found that 30% of respondents are expecting to see an increase in demand for film and TV space, following a lull in activity during the pandemic. The data shows that 84% of respondents required the same amount or more real estate space this year, compared with last year to keep up with production growth and this trend is expected to continue with 40% of respondents envisaging an increase in the number of UK productions next year.

Furthermore, 53% of respondents expect to use more studio space next year

“This rise in demand follows rapid growth in the sector following the growth of global video-on-demand platforms where global subscription revenues have nearly tripled since 2017 to £69bn,” CBRE’s head of UK research Jennet Siebrits said.

“The UK has been a major benefactor of this growth and, in 2022, there were a total of 415 film and HETV projects produced in the UK. This buoyancy has continued into Q1 2023 with combined total spend on film and HETV hitting £922m from 88 productions,” Siebrits added.

Supply and demand imbalances are expected to remain an issue with 21% of respondents suggesting it will become more challenging to find suitable studio space and 56% expecting it to remain the same in the coming year. There are currently development proposals for 11.2 million sq ft (over 1 million sq m) in the pipeline, but CBRE expects only one scheme to be available in 2023, and so any stock is likely to be absorbed.