This story first appeared in the April 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Thanks to extension of New York state’s tax- incentive program through 2019, New York City’s four major studios, already bustling, are gearing up for a further increase in demand. Several of the studios are even in the process of expanding.
KAUFMAN ASTORIA STUDIOS
This summer, the Queens studio will open the first outdoor studio lot in New York City, offering producers the ability to capture outdoor scenes and even stage car chases in a controlled environment. Taking a page from the traditionally closed studio lots in Los Angeles, Kaufman Astoria will enclose 36th Street between 34th and 35th avenues and build an iconic entry gate. The new space will allow productions to shoot exterior and special-effects shots within the campus, located adjacent to the soundstages.
“The industry wants to be in New York, and as long as New York continues to be a great place to live, work and capture on film, we will continue to be busy,” says the studio’s president Hal Rosenbluth. “Over the past few years, the combination of the New York film tax credit, expanding stages and new infrastructure has driven the increase in productions here.”
Kaufman Astoria has been home to Sesame Street since 1992; Showtime’s Nurse Jackie also has shot there. In addition, the studio is picking up new shows like Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black, a series set in a women’s prison, which just wrapped. The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced pilot Hostages for Warner Bros. and CBS recently finished as well.
On the film front, the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu comedy Birdman is in production on the studio’s newest stage, Stage K. The 93-year-old studio born in the silent-movie days also provided stages for the upcoming remake The Secret Life of Walter Mitty as well as recent actioner The Bourne Legacy.
If Montreal could stand in for New York in 2002, it’s only fair that New York stand in for Chicago in 2013. So for the CBS series The Good Wife, Broadway Stages doubles for the Windy City. Among the other shows that have utilized the Brooklyn facility are NBC’s Smash, MTV’s I Just Want My Pants Back, NBC’s Deception, CBS’ Golden Boy, CBS’ Blue Bloods and USA Network’s Royal Pains. In addition to the 11,000 square feet of stages, 20,000 square feet of photo studios and 20,000 square feet of support space, Broadway Stages maximized its space (and reduced its carbon footprint) by building the first-ever, year-round, fully operational organic rooftop garden in the city.
“At the moment, we are running at full capacity,” says Silvercup Studios CEO Alan Suna. “The primary reason for that is the state’s film and TV tax credit. What it does is it levels the playing field.”
The Queens studio, which opened in 1983 in the former Silvercup Bakery, now houses more than 400,000 square feet of space, including 19 studios and on-site production offices.
Silvercup also boasts CBS’ rookie series Elementary, the upcoming NBC twisty crime drama The Blacklist and ABC’s mother-daughter sleuth dramedy Murder in Manhattan. “We have a lot of crime-solvers on our lot,” quips Suna.
Opened in 2004, the Brooklyn space has been teeming ever since. Currently, the studio is expanding its mammoth campus within the Brooklyn Navy Yard with 225,000 square feet of new space coming online in the third quarter of 2013. Steiner already boasts the largest stage on the East Coast at 27,000 square feet, 10 soundstages totaling 131,000 square feet and 5.6 acres of backlot space.
“Brooklyn is where everyone wants to be,” says Steiner Studios chairman Doug Steiner. “It represents the new urban paradigm and is attracting the most creative people out there. There are more artists per capita here than anywhere else in the world.” Recent TV shows shot at Steiner include HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, The CW’s The Carrie Diaries and the Kevin Bacon starrer The Following, which airs on Fox.
“The industry wants to be in New York and L.A.,” he adds. “Other places try to chase this business, but it rightfully belongs here.”
Email: Tatiana.Siegel@THR.com, Twitter: @TatianaSiegel27