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Valleywood film studios faces possible sell-off


Concern is growing over the future of the multi-million pound Valleywood film studios in south Wales.

It comes as Ironclad, the only film shot at the site in Rhondda Cynon Taff, is released in cinemas this weekend.

So-called Valleywood - backed by Richard Attenborough - promised to put Wales at the heart of the UK film industry.

Administrators had hoped the £12m medieval action movie on-site would attract more film-makers.

But Price Waterhouse Coopers says the site may have to be sold since being partly mothballed in 2008.

They were called in when the two companies behind the site owed £15m to creditors.

Administrator Rob Lewis, a partner at Price Waterhouse Coopers, said: "They did take longer to develop than was originally envisaged and, when they came available for use, the market for property and making films had moved quite significantly.

"So we were appointed in March 2008 towards the start of the credit crunch and the financial crisis.

"That has had an impact on our ability to move the studios on," he said.

A replica of Rochester Castle in Kent has been built out of wood, metal and plastic at the studios at Llanilid, near Bridgend, for the film Ironclad, starring Sir Derek Jacobi.

The movie is about a siege by King John, played by Paul Giamatti, in a pivotal period of 13th Century English history, as he fought for power with his barons.

It also features Kate Mara, Brian Cox, James Purefoy and Mackenzie Crook.

The site, including 60,000 sq ft of studio space, is owned by Dragon International Studios and Westair Properties Ltd, both of which went into administration in March 2008.

The £330m studio project on a former opencast mine site was first unveiled in 2001.

Its chairman, Oscar-winning director and actor Lord Attenborough, has said previously that it could be a centre of the UK film industry.

But it was dogged by delays, with problems ranging from grant funding to the discovery of rare dormice.

Originally, Ironclad was to have been shot in Germany and Hungary but a collapse in sterling caused the producers to look elsewhere.

The Wales Screen Commission was heavily involved in getting Ironclad, which has also had backing from the Wales Creative IP Fund, filmed in Wales.

There are separate plans to develop other parts of the former opencast site.

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