Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba back British Film Institute's plans for flagship new home as search begins for investors

by Kim Megson | 01 Jun 2016

The British Film Institute (BFI) has unveiled ambitious plans to build a new world-class International Centre for Film, TV and the Moving Image – a move heralded by the great and the good of British cinema.

The BFI has revived a long-gestating plan to create a flagship national home for the film industry on the site of an existing car park on London’s South Bank, near its current cinema venue.

The new complex will feature a giant zoetrope and camera obscura; three multi-format cinemas; an education and research centre; a public archive storing the world’s biggest film collection; a holographic and virtual reality storytelling attraction; a major gallery space showcasing the best of British cinema and exhibiting memorabilia from the industry; and public spaces including specially commissioned moving image installations.

The development will also include a 6,500sq m (70,000sq ft) extension to the West 8-designed Jubilee Gardens, increasing the public space between The London Eye and Hungerford Bridge.

The International Centre for Film, TV and the Moving Image will host world premieres, new film releases, film restorations, live music events and presentations using new and emerging technologies.

A host of stars – including Helen Mirren, John Hurt, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston and Ralph Fiennes – have joined new London mayor Sadiq Khan in publicly backing the project.

Khan said: “These plans for a new state-of-the-art building offer a fantastic opportunity for the capital’s moving image artists. As well as strengthening London’s position as a global leader for the creative industries, the centre will create a new generation of TV and film lovers and give Londoners of all ages the chance to experience film and its amazing heritage in the UK.”

BFI CEO Amanda Nevill added: “British film and British filmmakers deserve a home now more than ever, a building that will express our optimism, our confidence and our excitement about Britain’s leading role in the future of film, television and the moving image at home and internationally.”

Actor Tom Hiddleston, hotly-tipped to be the next James Bond, described the project as “the most exciting cultural development to happen in the UK for some time”, as all the major art-forms in Britain have national homes except film.

“The new BFI Centre would blow the doors wide open for everyone,” he said. “It will help to democratise and diversify the pool of talent coming into the industry.”

Idris Elba, also a popular choice for the role of 007, said: "It’s time we had a proper national home worthy of this 21st century art-form, and I’m excited for all of the brilliant opportunities this will bring.”

The BFI said the project will cost £130m (US$188m, €168.3m), and an unidentified developer has already approached the institute offering to provide £87m (US$126m, €113m) for the building’s design, creation and partial fit-out.

This investment is subject to a tender process that is now underway. In return for investment, the BFI is offering naming rights for the building, exclusivity of food and beverage offerings in the venue and partial repayment of the funding over a period of time.

British Film Institute  London  South Bank  Tom Hiddleston  Helen Mirren  Idris Elba 
The British Film Institute (BFI) has unveiled ambitious plans to build a new world-class International Centre for Film, TV and the Moving Image – a move heralded by the great and the good of British cinema. The BFI has revived a long-gestating plan to create a flagship national home for the film industry on the site of an existing car park on London’s South Bank, near its current cinema venue.
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Tom Hiddleston said the BFI's plans are 'the most exciting cultural development to happen in the UK for some time' / Gage Skidmore
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