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New York’s studio building boom poses threat to L.A.’s Hollywood production

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Carrie Preston rides through New York’s Times Square in CBS’ “Elsbeth,” one of several TV series that film in the city.
(Elizabeth Fisher / CBS)

 Stephen Battaglio
Staff Writer 

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Pat Swinney Kaufman may have enough ceremonial shovels in her office to start her own small construction firm.

As commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, based above the Ed Sullivan Theater in Manhattan, Kaufman helped break ground on a number of new studios and soundstages to accommodate the TV and movie producers shooting in the region.

 

Next year, Sunset Pier 94 Studios will open on the West Side of Manhattan, adding six state-of-the-art soundstages blocks away from Midtown and the Theater District. In Queens, a new facility called Wildflower, backed in part by Robert De Niro, will add 775,000 square feet of stage space. And East End Studios, which has four soundstage facilities in California, is scheduled to open a new space in Sunnyside, Queens, in 2025.

“We are the creative and artistic capital of this country and we are very committed to building on that,” Kaufman said. “We want it to flourish.”

The aggressive studio expansions signal New York’s continued determination to double down on the film business and compete with its main rival, Los Angeles, for a bigger slice of the Hollywood pie — even as the industry is struggling to rebound nationwide.

Last year, the New York state legislature boosted the annual film tax credit allocation to $700 million, up from $420 million. It also raised the credit on qualified expenses (including actors’ salaries) to 30% (with an extra 10% for upstate productions) and accelerated the timeline for claiming credits — a big issue for producers.

The changes were intended to help the state better compete with other states such as neighboring New Jersey, which also is adding studio space and pulling work away from New York.

New York’s film industry grew rapidly after the state enacted its first credit in 2004. Production jobs grew at an average rate of 3% annually over the next 15 years — outpacing New York City’s overall job growth in that time and adding about 35,000 jobs, according to the mayor’s office.

But the dual strikes of the writers and actors last year brought production to a standstill at a time when the region was still recovering from the pandemic.

As in Los Angeles, work has been slow to return since the new labor deals were signed in the fall, creating some jitters in an industry that accounts for 6.5% of New York’s economy.

In a sign of the slowdown, Brooklyn-based Broadway Stages, which has been in operation since 1983, was at 50% capacity in April, the lowest level in memory according to its communications director, Barbara Leatherwood.

“Before the pandemic, everybody was just packed,” said Leatherwood in a recent interview. “We were packed. We were at 95%.”

And more studio space is coming online. Great Point Studios, which also has locations in Atlanta, Buffalo and New Jersey, recently completed a facility in Yonkers, located 15 miles north of Midtown Manhattan.

Kaufman acknowledged that production work isn’t back to to the level it was before the strikes. “We’re watching with bated breath,” she said.

She pointed out that the number of permits to shoot in New York has grown steadily since the Writers Guild of America strike ended last September. The commissioner’s office counted 212 projects shooting in the city during April, up from 187 for the same month in 2023.

Still, the additional new studio space comes at a time when there is concern that television and movie production is at an inflection point in the streaming age.

While broadcast and cable TV series once provided a reliable number of episodes each season, from 13 to 22, season orders from streamers typically are shorter. One long-running New York-based hit, CBS’ “Blue Bloods,” will end this year after 14 seasons. Broadcast networks that once stocked up on such shows now rely more on reality competitions, game shows and live sports to fill their schedules.

As media companies such as Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery face headwinds, further consolidation seems likely. After a spending spree on content in recent years, media executives are talking about making fewer films and shows in an effort to reduce costs and improve profitability.

Amid the industry challenges, some veteran soundstage owners question whether there will be enough production for the new studio space to thrive long-term.

Doug Steiner, who opened Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1999 and recently broke ground on a 15-acre location in the Sunset Park neighborhood in Brooklyn, believes some of the newcomers will face challenges. Steiner’s soundstages provided homes for Amazon’s hit “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” as well as movies including “The Joker.”

“There is an explosion of proposed new studios both nationally and globally,” Steiner said. “People who have never done it have no idea what they are getting into, and it’ll be a disaster for most of them.”

The new studio entrants say their expansion is based on an increased demand for larger spaces that can handle the more elaborate and expensive productions.

“What we saw in 2019 is an acute shortage of modern infrastructure for how films are made today,” said Robert Halmi, founder of Great Point Studios. “The shows that are being made for the streamers are much bigger than the shows that were being made for broadcast television 10 years ago.”

Andrew Kimball, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, believes employment levels in the film and television business will be back to pre-pandemic levels within six months; the city pegs that figure at 185,000 jobs.

“The forms of content creation are evolving as technology changes,” Kimball said. “Having the talent and stages is absolutely fundamental to the industry, and we remain very bullish even with the changes.”

The corporation partnered with Vornado Realty Trust, Hudson Pacific Properties and Blackstone to develop Sunset Pier 94 Studios, the first facility built in Manhattan specifically for film and TV production. The site, with six soundstages totaling 85,000 square feet, is set to open next year.

Halmi and others attribute the slow recovery to uncertainty surrounding the Alliance of Motion Pictures and Television Production’s talks with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents film and TV crew members. Some productions have decided to set up in Canada, rather than risk a holdup from another possible job action.

“I think we’re just in a place where the industry is right-sizing itself,” Leatherwood said. “The thirst for good entertainment that we produce in the United States has not gone away.”

One factor that soundstage owners believe they have in their favor is the support of New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul, who backed the 66% increase in the state tax credit last year even as some critics have questioned its effectiveness.

“The New York credit is completely competitive in all respects,” Steiner said.

Production stages are at the core of the state’s tax credit. While Hollywood-based film and TV studios own their lots, most of the New York production spaces are independently owned businesses. If a production wants to benefit from the tax credit, it must use one of the stages recognized by the state.

“You don’t get the incentive if you come here and spend three weeks shooting outside,” said Kaufman, who helped develop the first tax credit when she was executive director of the state’s film office. “You must shoot in one of our soundstages. In our opinion this is how we build an industry.”

It took decades for New York to establish itself as the largest production hub outside of Los Angeles. While feature filmmakers always sought out New York when needed for a backdrop, attracting cost-conscious TV series wasn’t easy.

New York City was a mecca for TV during the industry’s golden age of the 1950s. Playwrights and theater-trained acting talent were based in the city and provided a steady flow of talent for live original plays, which made up much of prime-time programming in those early years.

Once Hollywood became involved in TV, production headed west. Studios such as Warner Bros. and Universal had expansive lots and crews with experience on feature films, providing the scale and convenience needed for TV to grow.

Filmed TV series dwindled in New York in the 1960s and ’70s, as the city and its residents were not always cooperative. The streets became more unruly and crime-ridden.

ABC’s gritty late-1960s cop series “N.Y.P.D.” used members of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang to provide security around its East Village studio space. Producers found that doing business in Los Angeles was simply more trouble-free.

As New York’s economy rebounded in the 1980s and ’90s, TV production started to trickle back in. More stars and filmmakers with roots on the East Coast wanted to work near home, which has remained the key reason for filming in the city. (When inveterate New York actor Tony Randall did the NBC sitcom “Love, Sidney” in the early 1980s, his contract guaranteed the show would be produced in the city.)

“(Filming in New York) will always be a bottom-line decision,” Steiner said. “But there is some very sought-after talent that lives here and that will only work on a project if it’s here.”

Producer Dick Wolf is the trailblazer for the current New York production scene. He was insistent about making New York his base for “Law & Order” when it launched in 1990.

Wolf even negotiated his own deal with craft unions so he could keep “Law & Order” in the city when under pressure from NBC to cut the show’s budget in the early 1990s.

When HBO became a major producer of original series in the late ’90s, the premium cable channel generated New York-based hits such as “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos.” The shows became cultural touchstones that enhanced the city’s image as a place to film. (“And Just Like That…,” the “Sex and the City” sequel on Max, now shoots in New York.)

But the enactment of the state’s film production tax credit in 2004 was the true catalyst for production growth. The credit was designed to allay the economic impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on New York, which jolted the entire city’s economy and led to a slump in the number of motion picture and video production jobs.

Prolific producers who set up shop in New York tend to stay put. Wolf’s three “Law & Order” shows and three FBI-themed series for CBS are in production at Broadway Stages.

Robert and Michelle King made their long-running CBS hit “The Good Wife” and its sequel “The Good Fight” in New York. Their newest series, “Elsbeth,” the quirky police-legal drama recently renewed by CBS, is New York-based, as is the fourth and final season of the Kings’ Paramount+ horror series, “Evil.”

The city wants to remove any barriers to production coming in. It has a free “Made in NY” training program for production assistants, which has seen more than 1,200 participants since its inception.

“We’re working hard to stay ahead of the game and make sure we’ve got enough workforce here,” Kaufman said.

 

 

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Power & Politics: Behind-the-scenes tour of Lionsgate Studios

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Click Here to Watch Video

News 12 Westchester | Tara Rosenblum
Apr 9, 2024

Great Point Studios founder Robert Halmi is the driving force that brought Hollywood to the Hudson. Halmi takes News 12’s senior investigative reporter Tara Rosenblum on an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the largest modern-built production campus in the Northeast. It employs thousands of workers across the tri-state area.

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Goldcrest Post to Open Facility at Lionsgate Studios Yonkers (EXCLUSIVE)

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Great Point Studios

Variety | By Carolyn Giardina
Apr 4, 2024

Goldcrest Post, an independently-owned feature and episodic postproduction facility that currently maintains bases in New York and London, plans to open a third location at Lionsgate Studios Yonkers, just outside New York City.

Goldcrest plans to open in September as a full service facility that will include a theater equipped with Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision for screenings, color grading sessions and sound mixing. For launch, Goldcrest is also constructing an ADR room and offices for needs such as dailies, editing and visual effects. The site will be networked to Goldcrest’s base in Manhattan.

It’s part of an agreement with Great Point Studios, which owns and operates Lionsgate Studios. In all, the $500 million studio complex encompasses 1 million square feet of space that includes stages, offices and backlots. Tenants include production/distribution company Mediapro and Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication.

Goldcrest Post managing director Domenic Rom describes the venture as an opportunity to be part of a “new era” in film and TV production in New York. “When I toured Lionsgate Studios, I was impressed by its design, scope and concept,” he says.

Goldcrest has worked on features such as Celine Song’s Oscar winning drama “Past Lives” and series such as “Severance,” “Tokyo Vice,” “And Just Like That” and “Billions.”

The team reasons that its presence at the Studio could benefit productions seeking to take advantage of New York State’s tax credit program, which Goldcrest suggests could go as high as 45% for qualifying productions based in certain parts of Upstate New York as well as Buffalo in Western New York where Great Point Studios also has stages.

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$100-Million Mediapro Studios Project in Yonkers Breaks Ground

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A rendering of the Mediapro Studios at Great Point looking Northeast at North Broadway and Odell Terrace in Yonkers.

Real Estate In-Depth | November 7, 2023

YONKERS—Mediapro North America, a leader in the world of media and entertainment held a groundbreaking ceremony on Nov. 6 for the Mediapro Studios at Great Point Studios project. The event took place at 1500 North Broadway in Yonkers with Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano in attendance as well as key executives and stakeholders from Mediapro and Great Point Studios.

Mediapro’s collaboration with Robert Halmi’s Great Point Studios will add another world-class hub for film and television production in the heart of Yonkers, further strengthening the region’s role as a premier destination for the entertainment industry, city officials stated. Great Point Studios, already one of the country’s largest owners of television and film production facilities in the Northeast, has existing long-term partnerships with Lionsgate and Syracuse University.

The groundbreaking ceremony, hosted by Yonkers Mayor Spano, was attended by key executives and stakeholders from Mediapro, Great Point Studios, and local dignitaries.

Yonkers Mayor Spano said, “The addition of Mediapro to Yonkers’ growing film and production landscape further demonstrates our city’s reimagined approach to redevelopment, creating local jobs and economic vitality. We are thankful to Mediapro at Great Point Studios for investing in Yonkers and expanding its footprint here, truly making us Hollywood on Hudson.”

The new Mediapro Studios at Great Point Studios facility will offer cutting-edge production space and will offer soundstages, post-production facilities and other amenities that Mediapro officials said will attract filmmakers, content creators, and production companies from around the world.

“This groundbreaking is a testament to our commitment to innovation and excellence in the world of media and entertainment,” said Irantzu Diez-Gamboa CEO, MEDIAPRO North America. “We are excited to be part of this expansion that will not only bolster our industry but also contribute to the growth and prosperity of Yonkers and the entire region.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with Mediapro and expand our production facility footprint in Yonkers. Mayor Spano and the entire Yonkers community has been incredibly supportive and welcoming as they share in our vision for regional economic growth.” said Robert Halmi, Founder & CEO of Great Point Studios.

When open in the fall of 2024, the facility will feature three stages encompassing 20,000 square feet, providing ample space for large-scale productions. In addition, one of the three stages, a 10,000-square-foot facility, will be ideal for more intimate projects, ensuring that the studios are equipped to accommodate a wide range of production needs, Mediapro stated.

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Great Point Studios breaks ground on $100M studio campus in Yonkers

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News 12 Westchester

By: Emily Young

Great Point Studios, the owner of Lionsgate Studios in Yonkers, broke ground Monday on its new $100 million studio campus.

“The No. 1 place in the United States to make film and television, that’s Yonkers now,” said Robert Halmi, CEO and founder of Great Point Studios. “That’s where people are coming from, and that’s where they’re going to be coming from in the future.”

Its new long-term tenant is Mediapro North America, one of the largest media companies in the world, with a presence in 31 countries.

“This is an amazing campus, and will be an epicenter of TV and film industry in the eastern seaboard, ” said Fernan Zuluaga, from Mediapro.

Great Point Studios opened its $500 million Lionsgate Studios back in January 2022 to satisfy an overwhelming demand for studio space in the New York City area.

Just 11 miles north of the city, Yonkers is billed as a great solution.

“With this new addition of the media pro campus, it will put our total studio presence in Yonkers over 1 million-square-feet of studios and production facilities,” Halmi said.

The 20,000-square-foot studio, which is expected to open next fall, will employ 400 people.

“We saw the great opportunity to create community and help to bring business to the city that’s why we saw the opportunity in Yonkers,” explained Zuluaga.

Officials say the new facility will offer soundstages, post-production facilities and other amenities that will attract filmmakers and production companies from around the world.

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How Studios Are Taking a Leading Role in Sustainability in Face of Climate Change Emergency

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By Gregg Goldstein


Balmori Associates

With climate change and pollution making environmental concerns more urgent than ever, studios and productions are taking a lead role in incorporating sustainability into the workplace. And in some cases, it’s a necessity.

As New York City experiences a boom in studio construction, for example, recent legislation requires most buildings that exceed 25,000-gross-square-feet to to meet new energy efficiency standards and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 through solar panels, green roofs and other methods. “Studios have a unique opportunity with green roofs, because we’re typically low buildings with flat roofs,” says Silvercup Studios director of studio construction and capital projects Josh Sager.

Sager, a New York City department of environmental protection vet, is more familiar with the topic than most. He notes that Silvercup was one of the first adopters of green roof technology in 2005. “It helps clean the air, reduce storm-water runoff, lower energy consumption and reduce the ‘heat island effect’” found in urban areas, he says.

Robert Halmi’s Great Point Media is taking a novel approach to sustainability at its Lionsgate Studios Yonkers and Great Point Studios Buffalo in upstate New York, as well as its upcoming Atlanta and Newark, N.J., studios, by creating organic gardens on their green roofs for the food they serve. “In Wales, we’re building habitats for bees on the top of our stages to rebuild what we’re disturbing by creating the stages in the first place,” Halmi says of the Great Point complex in Cardiff, Wales.

And since a sustainable studio is arguably one that’s built to survive climate change-induced flooding, Robert De Niro’s new Wildflower Studios, opening in Queens next summer, certainly qualifies.

“The entire structure is elevated one story, and all of the power and vital equipment was moved up to the roof,” says managing partner Adam Gordon. “So in a Hurricane Sandy[-style] event, water could wash in and out of the garage, while soundstages above are completely unaffected.”

Most of Wildflower’s roof has solar panels, and it uses LED technology that “generates much less heat, an important component of heating and cooling buildings like this.”

Who better to ask about sustainability than Sustainable Studios COO Gavin Curran? “We use green energy and solar panels on the roof,” he says of the two-year-old Moonachie, N.J., outfit. “I’d love to explore wind power turbines, [since] there are new quieter ones. We’re working with local communities to recycle and give away wardrobe, hair, makeup, props, sets, lumber — anything we can, We also retrofit our building, instead of clearing land and setting up a new one or knocking one down.”

As Silvercup’s Sager notes, the amount of carbon produced from a renovation is “astronomically less” than with new construction.

There are several resources for filmmakers looking to make their sets green. For example, they can attend the Sustainable Production Forum, which holds conferences in New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver and Toronto. “What we’re looking to do is accelerate sustainability and decarbonization by providing folks that work in film and television with tools, skills, understanding about industry baselines, knowledge about where they can find resources and who they can get those resources from,” says founder Zena Harris.

One such resource is Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Earth Angel, which reduces the environmental impact of productions by donating food, managing crew waste and implementing energy efficiency and fuel reduction strategies. Series like Showtime’s “Billions,” limited series like Amazon’s “The Underground Railroad” and films like “Avengers: Infinity War” have hired them.

Atlanta-based Electric Owl Studios works with Earth Angel, along with Rescuing Leftover Cuisine to redistribute extra food from sets, Cherry Street Energy for solar panel power, the Lifecycle Building Center to capture building materials for community reuse, and Live Thrive’s Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (ChaRM) to divert hazardous household waste and other items from local landfills and water systems. Studio co-founder Dan Rosenfelt says his company uses nontoxic cleaning supplies, solar-powered golf carts and solar panels that offset 30% of their energy consumption. He plans to break ground on a Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., branch of Electric Owl early next year, aiming for a mid-2025 opening.

“We hope to offset at least 60%-70% of our overall energy consumption there” with solar panels, Rosenfelt says. “And we’ll continue to work with most of these incredible partners.”

Original Article: https://variety.com/2023/film/spotlight/studios-sustainability-climate-change-1235776025/

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Great Point Studios, Lionsgate coming to Douglas County

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By FOX 5 Atlanta Digital Team Published  |  April  5, 2023  |  NewsFOX 5 Atlanta


Great Point Studios is building a new film and television complex with Lionsgate Studios as its anchor tenant in Douglas County.

 

DOUGLAS COUNTY – Metro Atlanta’s movie production footprint is growing with a major studio expansion project.
Great Point Studios is building a new film and television complex with Lionsgate Studios as its anchor tenant in Douglas County, where some of the location filming was done on Lionsgate’s mega-hit franchise “The Hunger Games.”

Great Point Studios is building a new film and television complex with Lionsgate Studios as its anchor tenant in Douglas County.

 

The 500,000-square-foot, full service, modern entertainment complex will include 12 large sound stages, office and support space, a back lot and parking for 400 cars and 100 trucks.
“In response to continued strong demand for our content, we’re pleased to partner with Great Point Studios and The State of Georgia to extend our studio facilities production footprint to metro Atlanta,” said Lionsgate EVP of Television Production Gary Goodman. “Lionsgate Studios Atlanta becomes our third state-of-the-art production complex with proximity to a major metropolitan area, allowing us to continue to scale our film & television production operations, create hundreds of local jobs and invest in regional economic growth.”


Great Point Studios is building a new film and television complex with Lionsgate Studios as its anchor tenant in Douglas County.

 

Great Point Studios is building a new film and television complex with Lionsgate Studios as its anchor tenant in Douglas County.

Original Article: https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/great-point-studios-lionsgate-coming-to-douglas-county

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Why New York and New Jersey Are Seeing a Burst of Soundstage and Production Facilities Construction

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By Gregg Goldstein


Bjarke Ingels Group Inc.

It seems you can’t aim a camera in New York or New Jersey these days without seeing a studio space that’s brand new, under construction or in the works.

Did you miss the Oct. 24 groundbreaking ceremony for the $350 million Sunset Pier 94 Studios, Manhattan’s first purpose-built studio campus with six soundstages totaling 85,000 square feet, opening in midtown in late 2025? No worries — there’s another on Nov. 15 for East End Studios’ $280 million Sunnyside Campus in Queens, with four stages totaling 91,250 square feet, set to be open in early 2025.

“Having an opportunity to build in Manhattan is like finding Bigfoot — a very unique situation,” says Sunset Studios head of global studios and production services Jeff Stotland. “We were fortunate to be able to partner up with Vornado [Realty Trust] because they had the ground lease on the piers.” The other backers are Hudson Pacific Properties, Blackstone and the New York City Economic Development Corp.

If you’re more impatient for a new facility, the $60 million Great Point Studios Buffalo, with three stages totaling 30,000 square feet, opens Nov. 18 upstate. And just last week, Fuse Technical Group and All Mobile Video unveiled an in-camera VFX / XR LED volume stage for cutting-edge visual effects at Manhattan’s Chelsea Television Studios.

But wait, there’s more! The under-the-radar Borden Studios, with four soundstages at around 56,000 square feet on the top floor of a mixed-use Queens building, opens in mid-2024. Just a 15-minute drive away, Robert De Niro’s $600 million Wildflower Studios will unveil 11 vertically built soundstages totaling 198,000 square feet in Queens next summer. “Everything that’s needed is self-contained in each unit, so there are 11 independent carpentry shops, office spaces, sound areas and hair and makeup areas,” says managing partner Adam Gordon.

Atlanta-based Electric Owl Studios plans to open a facility with six stages in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., in 2025. The CIM Group says it’s in the design/development phase for Panorama Brooklyn Studios, a 90,000 square-foot complex they expect to finish by late 2024. And Kaufman Astoria Studios CEO Hal Rosenbluth, who opened two new stages in August 2020, has designs for more that he hopes to develop with his studio’s new owners Hackman Capital Partners next year.

Why the big boom? It’s partly because a big increase in production spurred by streamers led facilities like Silvercup Studios to operate at capacity before the pandemic, prompting many to build new stages or expand. “As a real estate developer, I know that retail [space] was in the toilet, office buildings are suffering and industrial [spaces] softened a lot,” says Steiner Studios owner Doug Steiner. “The only thing that was good nationally during the pandemic was production, so we attracted capital.” And with New York State tax credits returning to 30% and the annual cap increasing to $700 million for qualified productions in Gov. Kathy Hochul’s latest budget through 2034, incentives have never been greater.

Robert Halmi’s Great Point Studios, which launched Lionsgate Studios Yonkers just north of New York City in January 2022, is laying the foundation for Lionsgate Newark Studios, a $200 million facility with five stages that will open by March 2025. “Lionsgate is our anchor tenant and has the entire facility,” Halmi says. “Because they’re signing leases of 10 years or longer with a studio, they get a tax credit bigger than others who shoot in New Jersey.”

And Netflix, which opened a massive facility in Brooklyn in July 2021, has about three years to complete a due diligence and local approvals process before committing $848 million for a facility on the former Fort Monmouth Army base in Oceanport, N.J.

Two new studios have opened in Kearny, NJ., in the past two years. Palisade Stages offers 23,000 square feet of studio space, while 10 Basin Studios boasts a 36,000 square feet soundstage and is looking to partner with a virtual production expert to house a new high-tech operation there. For now, the largest purpose-built New Jersey production facility is Cinelease Studios — Caven Point, which has run three soundstages totaling 67,400 square feet in Jersey City since August 2021. And it could get bigger: Cinelease and its partners are working with the local community to complete a six-soundstage facility adjacent to the current one that would double its existing footprint.

All of this new competition is part of what’s spurring New York City studios to expand their footprint. Steiner Studios is adding two stages to its enormous 30-stage Brooklyn Navy Yard campus, set to open in less than two years. And owner Steiner is finalizing permits for what he calls “Steiner Sequel,” a $600 million facility in Brooklyn. He expects construction to be completed by early 2027.

Brooklyn’s Cine Magic East River Studios, which opened two stages in late 2021, bought property for its Cine Magic LIC Studios in Queens and expects to start building three new stages there by spring 2025.
Newer studios are boasting cutting-edge technology like LED stages and volume (a.k.a. LED volume) stages. Though the terms are often used interchangeably, the editors of the new “Visual Effects Society Handbook of Virtual Production” say an LED stage only has one or more LED walls with no camera tracking abilities, whereas a volume stage has both. The latter, used for shows like “The Mandalorian,” projects sets and/or vistas onto LED walls so the camera can move around actors for a 3D effect, creating an immersive experience.

Queens-based Carstage, which opened two years ago, has a 10,000-square-foot LED stage used mostly for creating images in moving car windows, but occasionally uses camera tracking and has begun doing non-automotive shoots. XR New York, based just north of New York City near Nyack, has a volume stage boasting a 45-foot curved LED wall. And the newly opened Chelsea Television Studios space has a 22 X 24 foot stage and a curved 35 X 15 foot LED wall that can expand into a volume stage.

As the industry awaits the end of SAG-AFTRA’s strike and the restart of many productions, there are a few clouds on the horizon. Much of this boom was fueled by unprecedented demand for content more than four years ago. But with streamers like Netflix scaling back, fewer orders for adult scripted series and today’s uncertain economic future, it’s unclear how many planned stages will open for business. Final financing on one northern New Jersey studio hasn’t closed, despite its projected start of construction in early 2024. Another ambitious studio planned for southern New Jersey also hasn’t been fully financed. And when a few planned studios like Panorama were asked if funding for their facilities was completed, reps did not reply to requests for comment.

And, as Kaufman Astoria’s Rosenbluth puts it, “If interest rates go from [around] 7% to 10% next year, there’s not going to be a lot of construction going on for anybody.”

Original Article: https://variety.com/2023/film/focus/soundstages-new-york-new-jersey-1235775375/

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Robert Halmi’s Great Point Studios & Mediapro Launch Phygital FX Joint Venture; Mario Sousa CEO

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By Jill Goldsmith

Robert Halmi’s Great Point Studios has partnered with Spain’s Grup Mediapro to form Phygital FX, offering expansive production services and led by Mediapro veteran Mario Sousa.

Plans are for the joint venture, initially a U.S. project, to expand globally, providing full production services to the film and television industry from stage and studio rentals; rental equipment including lighting, grip and electric; postproduction services; graphics; and virtual production services.

Halmi told Deadline that Phygital has committed more than $50 million to acquire state-of-the-art lighting and grip equipment, and set aside 200,000 square feet of space to store it in across Great Point’s growing roster of studio locations. Lionsgate Studio Yonkers is up and running while still being built out. Great Point now has 63 film stages open or under construction at locations in Yonkers, Atlanta, Buffalo, Newark and Wales. Halmi stepped in as did other developers to address the deficit of studio space as streaming led to a surge in content production.

Phygital (the name is a combination of the words “physical: and “digital”) will also offer services to interested productions outside the Great Point network.

Spain-based Mediapro is an anchor tenant at Lionsgate Studios Yonkers. The European media powerhouse, which produces more than 12,000 live events each year, along with 13 top-tier national soccer competitions, as well as scripted and unscripted content, has a major global equipment and technology business.

Sousa, who was most recently in Miami for Mediapro, moved to New York in 2019 to extend its production services Stateside, ultimately landing a base at Mediapro stages in Yonkers. Halmi, at the same time, wanted to offer Great Point producers the convenience of not having to haul in their own equipment, and to provide the latest of what the market has to offer as productions, especially TV, have expanded, becoming bigger, more multilayered and complex.

Halmi proposed a broad venture servicing all Great Point locations, and the broader industry, but didn’t have anyone in house to lead it. That led to the JV with Phygital and Sousa at the helm.

The company has been active for a while, servicing production from Raising Kanan to Winston, but just closed all the JV documents and formally named Sousa CEO of what the exec called “a one-stop shop for technical stages services.”

That also coincided with strikes by writers and actors in a time of upheaval in the entertainment industry. As a result, Souza said he’s pivoted a bit, now looking at musicals, which are still up and running, commercial shoots and other productions that need lighting and services. “This is a start-up,” he said. “So we need to try. … These now are some of my priorities.”

When the strikes end and productions return — to sets that were left on stages — the company is ready to gear up.

 

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New Lionsgate Studios Atlanta Rising In Latest Partnership With Robert Halmi’s Great Point

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By Jill Goldsmith

Lionsgate continues to expand its production footprint, this time as anchor tenant with naming rights to the new 500,000 square-foot Lionsgate Studios Atlanta.

The 40-acre, $200 million complex in Douglas County (the site of some location filming for The Hunger Games) will be up and running in late 2023. About 16 miles from Atlanta center and 25 minutes from the Atlanta Airport, it will include 12 large sound stages, office and support space, a back lot and parking for 400 cars and 100 trucks. Owned and operated by Great Point Studios, Robert Halmi’s film and television infrastructure group, it will offer a full set of production services on site including grip and electric, equipment, props, set building, restaurants, location catering, cleaning service and security.

“Lionsgate Studios Atlanta becomes our third state-of-the-art production complex with proximity to a major metropolitan area, allowing us to continue to scale our film & television production operations, create hundreds of local jobs and invest in regional economic growth,” said Gary Goodman, the company’s EVP of Television Production. “In response to continued strong demand for our content, we’re pleased to partner with Great Point Studios and The State of Georgia to extend our studio facilities production footprint to metro Atlanta.”

Lionsgate Studios Yonkers, a sprawling complex on the Hudson River just outside NYC, opened in January of 2022. The one-million square foot project, also developed by Great Point, is adding sound stages and support space as it expands. The partners, along with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, most recently announced a $125 million+ project on 12 acres in Newark, the first purpose-built studio in New Jersey specifically constructed for TV and film production.

Halmi, founder of the Hallmark Channel and producer of over 400 film and TV projects, has been raising facilities to meet the needs of an evolving entertainment industry in relevant locations amid an ongoing crunch for studio space, which never remotely caught up with the streaming-fueled boom in production — regardless of any slower growth the industry may be seeing now.

“The state of Georgia has seen a record year in terms of film and television productions. With the rising demand for production facilities, a studio location in Atlanta was an ideal next step for our partnership with Lionsgate as we continue to bring best-in-class production facilities to the East Coast,” said Halmi.

Georgia’s tax incentives, first passed in 2005, have become the most generous in the country and continue to aggressively attract production to the state, making it a global hub.

“When the pandemic struck, we worked hard in Georgia to communicate with our partners in the Georgia film, TV, and streaming industries. Together, we forged a safe and appropriate path to allow the film industry to return to operations and deliver Georgia Made productions to eager consumers all around the world,” said Gov. Brian Kemp. “Because of this partnership approach and the resiliency of our state’s film and television infrastructure, we are once again enjoying incredible growth and investment from industry leaders like Lionsgate and Great Point Studios. These projects will support hardworking Georgians and ensure that we are a top producer of television shows and feature films for years to come.”

Lee Thomas, Director of the Georgia Film Office noted, “From the early years of the film office, Georgia has had a great relationship with both Robert Halmi Jr. and Robert Halmi Sr. in their roles at Hallmark Entertainment and Robert Halmi Productions, and we are excited to begin this next chapter with Robert Halmi Jr. and Great Point Studios. We are thrilled that Great Point Studios has chosen Douglasville for this exciting project, and we look forward to partnering with Lionsgate on film and television projects for decades to come.”

The project is being developed by a joint venture of Great Point and its institutional partner, an affiliate of private investment firm Lindsay Goldberg. Great Point Studios, founded by Halmi and longtime media and entertainment investment banker Fehmi Zeko, has been expanding into new studio investment/management businesses in North America and the U.K.

The Atlanta studio initiative was shepherded for Lionsgate by its CFO James Barge.

Rendering/Great Point Studios

Original article: New Lionsgate Studios Atlanta Rising In Latest Partnership With Robert Halmi’s Great Point

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