With premium sound stages as film and television production increases in Los Angeles County, NBCUniversal will build eight new stages as part of a major development to boost production at its famous Universal Studios park.
The company’s announcement on Tuesday comes as independent film operators and other old-school studios, including Warner Bros., launch projects that will add new soundstages and other facilities to serve in the preparation of production driven by the rapid growth of streaming services such as Netflix, HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video.
“NBCUniversal is doubling down on its commitment to producing content in Los Angeles,” said Michael Moore, president and CEO of West Coast studio operations.
NBCUniversal representatives did not put a price tag on the soundstage project, but noted that the company would invest $ 1 billion in the studio over the next five years.
The century-old studio located along the Hollywood Freeway is one of the world’s best-known entertainment factories, where movies and TV shows have been created for generations and thousands of visitors travel by streetcar every year . Its adjoining Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, which features the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is one of the area’s top tourist attractions.
NBCUniversal needs to expand and modernize its production facilities to meet demand, which has been increasing for years but has been supercharged by the pandemic, Moore said. People stuck at home craved entertainment, much of which is made in Southern California.
Plans call for the construction of eight sound stages off Barham Boulevard by next summer, bringing the total number of stages on the ground to 37. The new stages designed by Bastien & Associates Inc. will have solar panels on the ground. roof that will allow Universal Studios to reduce its dependence on the electricity grid during peak hours of electricity use.
The leveling of the slope where the new sound scenes will stand is finished. By moving the land from a hill to a flat surface, the space for the new scenes was reduced from 8 acres to 12 acres. Outside the stages, there will be room for the production base camps, where the actors’ trucks, equipment and trailers are placed.
“We are creating more acreage on what was previously unusable land,” Moore said.
The first sound scenes at Universal date back to 1915, when the films were silent.
The new soundstages are part of an ongoing upgrade of the bundle. Work began in 2020 on an 11-story, 350,000-square-foot office building that will be used to house the creative businesses working at the studio. The Lankershim Boulevard office complex will be completed in 2023.
A new employee center with a commissary, sit-down restaurant, theaters and event space will replace the commissary and the existing old screening rooms and will also be ready by the end of 2023, NBCUniversal said. The center and office were designed by Lever Architecture of Portland, Ore.
A new theater-like sound mixing facility, which will be used for post-production, is nearing completion. It will replace the existing post-production facility where the new employee center will be located.
Sound stages are one of the hottest categories in commercial real estate as entertainment production continues to increase. The rise of video-on-demand streaming has sparked an “insatiable appetite” for media-oriented real estate like studios and offices, according to real estate brokerage firm CBRE.
The new demand for large entertainment-related spaces is coming from old entertainment companies and new streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV + and HBO Max.
The Los Angeles area already ranks as the world leader in soundstage capacity with over 5.2 million square feet of certified space, FilmLA data show. Local sound stages remained rented during the pandemic; outdoor shoots, which had been reduced to a net during the worst months of the pandemic, are making a comeback.
Last month, Warner Bros. announced that its historic satellite studio Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank will be redeveloped with 16 new sound stages.
Warner sells the lot but will lease the redeveloped lot to the owner of the entertainment property Worthe real estate group, which will hold the lot with the San Francisco investment firm Stockbridge.
A new movie studio in Los Angeles’ Sun Valley neighborhood that will have seven sound stages was announced in July by Hudson Pacific Properties Inc., one of the nation’s largest studio operators. Its Sunset Glenoaks Studios are slated for completion at the end of 2023 in an industrial district on Peoria Street, near Glenoaks Boulevard.
Other recently announced studio plans include a $ 650 million plan to build 17 sound stages at a site now occupied by the Los Angeles Times printing plant on Olympic Boulevard in an industrial district in downtown Los Angeles. Times owner Atlas Capital Group intends to develop the parking lot around the printing house in the near future and possibly take over the 1980s building and turn it into stages. The Times could extend its lease there until the 2030s.
Los Angeles real estate developer David Simon plans to build a $ 450 million independent studio in Hollywood with five sound stages and supporting facilities including offices and bungalows for entertainment creators. It would be called Echelon Studios and replace a long-closed Sears store and parking lot on Santa Monica Boulevard west of 101 Freeway.
Hackman Capital Partners, owner of Television City, formerly operated by CBS, in March announced plans to make $ 1.25 billion worth of improvements to the Los Angeles field, including increasing the number of stages sound to at least 15, against eight, as well as production support. premises and offices for rent.
Unlike independent studios that lease spaces to entertainment creators, NBCUniversal is an owner-user, Moore said. “We are investing in the user experience of this production and business community here on campus.