Netflix Spent $150 Million in New Mexico on Film and TV Productions in 2019

A year after buying ABQ Studios, the streamer deepens its investment in Albuquerque.

Just more than a year after Netflix set up its first major U.S. production hub in New Mexico by buying ABQ Studios in Albuquerque, a clearer picture of the partnership is emerging as state lawmakers kicked off a 30-day legislative session on Jan. 21.

The deal, signed in October 2018 with the aim of bringing $1 billion in production to New Mexico over 10 years, has generated more than $150 million in qualified production spending in the state in 2019 across a half-dozen productions in the region — exceeding its annual commitment of $80 million, Netflix execs tell The Hollywood Reporter.

The streamer plans to deepen its relationship with the community in 2020 by launching a training program for below-the-line jobs in collaboration with NBCUniversal, which made its own $500 million investment in the state last year. The streamer has already been active in the local business community, contributing to the Mayor’s One Albuquerque Fund, which supports public safety and education, and serving as a board member on the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.

Thanks to films and TV series including Breaking Bad follow-up El Camino, Zack Snyder's upcoming zombie movie Army of the Dead and the Mark Burnett series Messiah, Netflix says it has employed 1,600 full-time cast and crew, who worked more than 17,998 workdays and used 2,000 vendors during the year. "It's been a really good business decision for us," says Patty Whitcher, Netflix's vp physical production for original film, of the investment.

Adds the exec, "New Mexico is a very important production hub in this part of the country, and we plan to keep it very busy." So busy, in fact, the company is developing a bit of a backlog when it comes to projects that can shoot at their Albuquerque facility, according to Whitcher. One of those productions that will shoot in the state this year is the streamer’s upcoming Jay Z-produced Western film The Harder They Fall, starring Idris Elba and Jonathan Majors.

New Mexico cabinet secretary for economic development Alicia J. Keyes, who initiated the sale of ABQ Studios to Netflix, notes that she has fielded calls from other entertainment companies expressing interest in either buying or developing their own production facilities in the state. And she's also seen an influx of crewmembers — roughly a hundred a month — relocating from Georgia to New Mexico. "These are long-term, consistent jobs." notes Keyes.

“Oftentimes people think, ‘Oh, it's just actors and actresses and people who work on the set,’ but our lumber companies, our glass companies and our hotels are loving it, too," she continues, adding of the partnership: "It's been a game changer for our state."

A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.