Shinfield Studios, near Reading

First 4 stages from 2022.  Fully open from June 2024.

(Revised June 2024)


Should this studio be included in ‘London’s Film Studios’ or the ‘Rest of the UK?’  Well, I have included Arborfield Studios here, which are just down the road, and arguably the reason these studios are located here is because of their proximity to Heathrow and the M4.  Also, they are only 30 mins from Bray, 35 mins from Pinewood, 40 mins from Shepperton and 50 mins from Leavesden (all on a good day!).  The point being that the crews working in these new studios will be the same freelancers who will be working in all those other major London studios too.


The Shinfield site on December 10th, 2022. The first four stages can be seen on the right of the frame. (Above them are the new British Museum buildings.)  Progress on the next phase is clear to see.  These stages were due to open in the spring of 2023.  Bottom left is the Thames Valley Science Park.  A new multicamera TV studio was due to be constructed here but there is no sign of any work being done.  It is my assumption that this project has been dropped.
photo by Steve Sharpe
The site on April 25th 2023.  The first 5 stages of the second phase, workshops and car park look almost complete and progress on the rest of the site appears to be on track.
photo by Steve Sharpe
The studios on 29th September 2023, nearing completion.  The three buildings on the far right are owned by the British Museum.
photo by Steve Sharpe


In March 2018 Thames Valley Science Park opened on land just south of the M4 at Shinfield, near Reading.  It is owned and managed by the University of Reading, although it actually lies within the borough of Wokingham.  The initial buildings cost £35m and were part funded by the EU.  Soon after opening, the Gateway building hosted about 20 bioscience and technology-led companies providing laboratory and office space.  The Rutherford Centre, which opened later, houses a £30m cancer treatment research centre, including advanced proton beam therapy.

This first phase now provides a world-leading productive environment for tech companies, able to exchange ideas and collaborate on projects.  More than 80 Health & Life Sciences and Innovation & Technology businesses were based here early in 2020.  Alongside these buildings is an area earmarked for Gateway Building 2.  More info on what was planned for this site later.

Another exciting part of this development is a £27m research and storage facility for the British Museum, which was due to open in 2023.  Also, in March 2024 planning permission was granted for a new research and storage facility for the Natural History Museum, to be sited nearby.


In 2017, outline planning permission was granted by Wokingham Borough Council for phase 2 of the Science Park, which was to consist of about 15 buildings to be constructed over a decade and a half.  So it came as quite a surprise when American movie studio Blackhall – now called Shadowbox – announced in February 2020 that they had been negotiating with the University of Reading to build a large film studio and ‘creative hub’ on the remaining land here.

Shadowbox is the company responsible for films like Godzilla: King of Monsters, Venom and Jumanji: The Next Level and their US studios are where the sequel to The Shining – Dr Sleep – was filmedThey are based in Atlanta, Georgia and are said to specialise in movies that use the latest technology.  They claimed that these studios would be the most high tech in the UK.  The company said they planned to make between 5 and 7 features here per year.  According to the press – Ryan Millsap, chairman of Blackhall, said that their US based clients such as Disney, Universal and Sony were all asking them to expand into the UK to meet their desire to create productions here.

The films produced here are expected to bring £500m to the UK economy each year.  It is claimed that the studios will provide 1,500 jobs.  Some of these will of course be locally based people but many will be experienced freelancers who will also be working in other studios and on location all over the UK.  However, the extra work will provide plenty of opportunity for training and giving relative newcomers to the industry much needed experience, which is clearly a very good thing.  The studios are committed to recruiting locally where possible and hope that over time, a large community of backstage crew-members will be built up in the area.



These studios were originally due to be called Cine Valley Studios but in December 2020, Reading University announced that following consultation with the local community, it had been decided that they would be known as Shinfield Studios.  They also revealed that the university had entered into an agreement with affiliates of Commonwealth Real Estate LP – a film studios investor based in Los Angeles.  They have signed a 199 year lease with the company.  However, despite this new company being involved it appears that the studios will still be operated by Shadowbox.

A ‘Screening Opinion’ document was submitted to the local council in January 2021.  This formed the basis of discussions with the council before actual planning permission was sought.  The scheme was broadly welcomed by the leader of Wokingham Borough Council, the local authority.

The site has 18 sound stages totalling around 450,000 square feet plus all the usual support facilities and has reportedly cost £150m to construct.  (For comparison, in 2024 Pinewood has 29 stages, Shepperton 31, Leavesden 19 and Sky/Universal Elstree studios 12 stages.)  There are also 355,000 sq ft of workshop space and a 9 acre back lot.


Above – the illustration that accompanied the press release in December 2021.  Below – the site plan included in the submission to the local council in January 2021.  There are a few minor differences.  The plan shows stages in yellow, workshops in blue and offices in red and pale blue.  At the bottom right is an area set aside as a back lot.  The existing Science Park buildings are outlined on the left and this is where the new TV studio was due to be built.  The grey rectangles outlined on the right are the new buildings owned by the British Museum.  The M4 runs along the top of the site and junction 11 is a short distance away, making this a very easy location to get to by road.

shinfield site plan 450p


In March 2021, planning permission was granted for an initial phase of this development.  This occupies most of the land at the lower right in the drawing above where an office block, four stages and the back lot are indicated.  This was for 4 temporary sound stages and four workshops, all of which would be built in just a few months.  Interestingly, a condition of the permission was that the land must be returned to its former agricultural condition after 5 years.  According to press reports, a well known movie franchise was keen to start shooting here very soon and if these stages had not been available it would have been made in Los Angeles.  Later it transpired that Disney was the company booking the stages.  At first, filming was expected to commence in the temporary stages from October ’21 but later announcements set the date for filming as early in 2022.   According to reports on the Internet, the Star Wars series The Acolyte began filming around October 2022.  An exterior set was constructed on the back lot.  (I have a photo but it is my policy not to publish images of productions that have not yet been released.)  It completed filming in May 2023.


On May 28th 2021 a full planning application was submitted for 18 stages plus workshops and offices, including replacing the 4 temporary ones.  The application was unanimously approved by Wokingham Council’s planning committee on October 13th, although they decided to refer the decision to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.  The planning officer said the referral could delay work on the project by three to six weeks but he argued that it ‘would be best from a challenge point of view to refer it and go down that process.’  The decision to go ahead was fortunately confirmed in December 2021.


In an interview for The Knowledge in May 2022 Nick Smith, joint managing director of Shinfield Studios, revealed some interesting facts.  He stated that the 4 rapid-build stages that were built in 2021 were up and running with their first production in them.  He also said that these stages are by no means ‘temporary’.  They will not be replaced, as was initially assumed, but have been built to a demanding specification which will see them in use ‘for many decades to come’.   He also confirmed that Disney was the first client.  In another interview for The Knowledge in December 2022 he said  ‘Of course, we are bound by confidentiality, but we can share that we have already been home to two highly-anticipated high end TV productions (HETV), both from US companies. It’s no exaggeration to describe them as some of the most famous TV series and franchises in the world.’

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire  moved production from LA to here in 2023 as well as using Winnersh and Farnborough Studios.  In April 2024 it was announced that Gerard Butler’s action thriller Greenland: Migration was to film here, and Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy would also be here to film Magic Faraway Tree, an adaptation of the Enid Blyton classic.


Construction on the main site commenced early in 2022.    The next phase of 5 stages opened in the late Spring of 2023.  In November the studios announced that 13 stages had been completed, including two fully climate-controlled sound stages of 43,000 sq ft each.  All 18 along with 38 workshops and substantial office space were declared available to book in April 2024 and in June the studios announced that all construction was complete.  Excellent news and hearty congratulations to everyone concerned!

The stages have been built to a very high specification.  No corners have been cut – they are all air-conditioned and have noise cancelling at 25dB.



The rapid-build stages and workshops under construction in July 2021.  These will now be retained as part of the studios and not replaced, as was previously suggested.
image thanks to Paul Tuthill
the exterior of two of the first four stages
image thanks to Shinfield Studios
The interior of one of the first four stages
image thanks to Shinfield Studios


NB – In August 2020 Reading University announced that they were also proposing to build a fully-equipped multicamera TV studio on the Gateway Building 2 site next to the existing buildings in association with BBC Studioworks.  This was due to open in 2022 but the photos at the top of this page indicates that no progress had been made by April 2023.  It seems unlikely that this project will now be going ahead.  More info on the ‘Independent TV Studios’ page.