Pre-Pandemic Snapshot of L.A. Soundstage Occupancy Revealed in FilmLA Report

The closed Paramount Studio -April 15, 2020- Getty - H 2020
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The report covers a period of time before the COVID-19 outbreak.

FilmLA is offering a snapshot of production intensity in Los Angeles soundstages prior to the pandemic. In its newly released Sound Stage Production Report, the nonprofit has aggregated data supplied by an expanded list of studio partners in an effort to quantify occupancy, film use, and non-film use of 246 certified soundstages and adjoining backlots in Greater Los Angeles in 2018.

The 17-page report also looks at recent soundstage development and construction across five major global production centers: Los Angeles, the United Kingdom, British Columbia, Ontario, Georgia and New York. Because the new report predates the emergence of COVID-19 and the industry’s production shutdown by many months, it offers a look at production intensity prior to the global pandemic. 

A total of 13 studio operators are enrolled in FilmLA’s data-sharing partnership, and together they control 17 different multistage facilities in the Greater Los Angeles area, which together comprise 68 percent of the total certified sound stage inventory available in the region. They also offer local filmmakers more than 3.5 million square feet of production-ready space.

The availability of purpose-built production space has been a longstanding competitive advantage for L.A. In terms of total square footage, Los Angeles-based studio infrastructure continues to outmatch what other jurisdictions offer, though other major production centers are investing heavily and gaining ground on that front.

In terms of occupancy, FilmLA’s studio partners reported an average occupancy rate of 95 percent in 2018. That meant similarly high rates of utilization: a total of 14,491 stage shoot days and 1,986 backlot shoot days were recorded for the year, with most dedicated to the production of one-hour series (7,459 shoot days), half-hour series (4,327 shoot days), TV talk shows (1,128 shoot days) and commercials (1,039 shoot days).

“Partner stage operators continue to confide in us about the challenges they face in their business,” said FilmLA president Paul Audley. “High occupancy levels have for several years offered proof that efforts to attract productions to California are working. Streaming content also fueled stage space demand. What remains to be seen, as the film industry seeks to responsibly resume production, is how occupancy and utilization will change in the wake of COVID-19.”

The next installment of FilmLA’s Sound Stage Production Report, which will cover January through December of 2019, is expected to be released by the end of the year.