Copyright 2002 Associated Press

[ October 2nd 2002 ]

The Welsh Assembly on Tuesday dropped its objections to plans to build a 300 million-pound (US$450 million) movie studio complex in a deprived area of south Wales. A consortium backed by Sir Richard Attenborough wants to build the ultra-modern complex on 350 acres at Llanilid in south Wales, creating up to 2,000 jobs.

The complex, dubbed the "Welsh Hollywood," will also include an international film academy and movie-based leisure attractions similar to those at Universal Studies in Hollywood. The Welsh government had blocked the development because of the need for a new junction on the M4 highway between England and Wales, but officials said Tuesday that problem could be overcome. "The Llanilid film studio is a unique development and I am very pleased we have been able to find a way forward which paves the way for this major investment to become a reality," said First Minister Rhodri Morgan. Local councils must now decide whether to approve the scheme. They have said in the past that they support the development.

The complex, to be called Dragon International Studios, will have the latest facilities for making feature films, television productions and commercials with full editing and post-production facilities. The aim is to capture a share of the global market in film and television production, as well as supporting a wide range of small and medium-sized productions. The facility, which will offer tours of famous film sets as well as theme park rides, is expected to attract up to 1.2 million visitors a year.

The Llanilid area of south Wales has suffered economically in recent years and is now classed as one of the poorest areas in Europe. Welsh culture minister Jenny Randerson said the development would be a real boost to the film industry in Wales. "The Wales Screen Commission in particular has been working with film production companies, such as Paramount Pictures recently for Tomb Raider 2, helping them secure locations in Wales and sourcing their requirements locally. This new development could further that success," she added.

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