Smashbox Studios Gets $5 Million Makeover (Exclusive)

Courtesy of Smashbox
Smashbox Studios

"It's been a few years since Smashbox has pumped the way it's going to again," says founder Davis Factor

This story first appeared in the Aug. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Smashbox, the seminal Los Angeles photo-shoot facility turned cosmetics brand, is looking to get back in vogue. The company, which was acquired in 2010 by Estee Lauder for a reported $200 million to $300 million, will reopen its mothballed Culver City studio in October.

Once the favored shooting location for Hollywood print campaigns including Modern Family, The Voice and Pretty Little Liars, buzz at the 25,000-square-foot space, which opened in 1990, has quieted in recent years.

In 2013, Smashbox ended its five-year partnership with production-services firm Quixote and has taken up with Industrial Color Brands, which runs leading Brooklyn facility Fast Ashleys, to pour $5 million into a state-of-the-art renovation by design firm Gensler.

"It's been a few years since Smashbox has pumped the way it's going to again," says Smashbox founder Davis Factor, who started the company with his brother Dean. (They are great-grandsons of film makeup icon Max Factor.)

Factor and ICB CEO Steve Kalalian believe the high-tech improvements, which will include iPad-controlled lighting and sound systems, will help the studio better vie with crosstown competitors Milk, Quixote and Siren.

"We talked to a lot of people — 30 or so photographers, stylists, makeup artists and producers — and really drilled down, to the coffee, on what they liked and what they didn't," says Kalalian. "This is a space rebuilt for them." 


Aug. 20, 10:25 a.m.: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Milk as managed by Quixote. THR regrets the error.