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Netflix has unveiled its plans for one of the largest fully integrated production facilities in the world in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.
The streamer bid $55 million for the 293-acre parcel at the former military base, in line with the appraised value, according to Rajiv Dalal, Netflix’s director of content and studio affairs. Outside of that, Netflix will invest about $850 million in the production hub, with plans to build 12 soundstages, ancillary production support and a backlot. The company plans to shoot features, series and scripted projects at the studios.
Netflix received approval on the purchase from the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority on Wednesday evening.
As for why Netflix wanted this parcel, Dalal cited the versatile landscape and the talent.
“I think we certainly needed an East Coast production hub. And given the talented crew base in New Jersey that have worked on our titles in New York, but live in New Jersey, the multiplicity of great scenic backdrops, the proximity to major metropolitan areas and the fact that we were able to get a large swath of land close to 300 acres. Those were key decision drivers,” Dalal told The Hollywood Reporter.
New Jersey has also been ramping up its tax credit program for film and television production, which was first introduced in 2018 and expanded in January 2021. In recent years, West Side Story, The Equalizer, and The Many Saints of Newark have filmed in the state and Lionsgate has also announced plans to build a new production facility in Newark, set to open in 2024.
While Dalal said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has “created a very attractive” environment for the film and television industry with these incentives, Netflix has not yet utilized the program for its new facility and therefore does not yet know how “it will play out,” with Dalal adding that this was not the main driver for the project. Netflix did utilize the tax credit program for filming Army of the Dead in the state.
This would add on to Netflix’s existing studios in Brooklyn, which the streamer opened in 2021, as well as other North American studios in Toronto, Atlanta, California, British Columbia and New Mexico.
“We have a large enough slate to be able to utilize the stages elsewhere, but we’re certainly going to be heavily utilizing the East Coast production hub,” Dalal said.
However, the investment also comes after Netflix underwent cost-cutting measures over the summer, including laying off employees, in light of slowed subscriber growth and its stock decline at the time. The company still planned to spend $17 billion on content in 2022, and while it indicated that the growth rate may slow over the next few years, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said in April that Netflix “will continue to grow the content spend relative to prior years.”
Exact titles to be filmed at the studios are still to be determined, since the project is not expected to be completed until 2027, Dalal said. However, Netflix plans to ramp up production in New Jersey ahead of the opening.
Now that Netflix has received approval from the board, Gov. Murphy still has a veto period and then Netflix will have about three to six months of due diligence followed by a year or more of local approvals. However, Murphy appears to already be on board with the project, saying in a press release Wednesday evening that the “transformative investment will serve as a cornerstone in our efforts to create a thriving industry from whole cloth.”
Once the studio is fully operational, Netflix estimates that it would support 1,400 to 2,200 jobs annually and generate between $7.4 billion and $8.9 billion in output over the next 20 years, including construction and production.
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