Survey of world's biggest film facilities
Located in suburban Vancouver, Mammoth Studios is aptly named for stages one and two having a 40-foot clear span, and stages three and four a 25-foot clear span. All four stages can be booked individually, or together to create around 300,000 square feet of warehouse-sized soundstages. Recent credits include 20th Century Fox's "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," 2003's "X2," and 2006's"X-Men: The Last Stand." Mammoth Studios is owned by the same developer that runs the nearby Lionsgate Studios. Together, Lionsgate Studios and Mammoth Studios comprise around 500,000 square feet of soundstages and production support space.
Toronto Film Studios
Toronto Film Studios is located along the city's waterfront on Eastern Avenue, and has in all 16 soundstages, including a massive 40,000-square foot, column-free stage with 65 feet of clearance at its peak. Standing sets include a wide-body private jet and a New York townhouse. But TFS is more notable for currently constructing the Filmport megastudio (see main story) for big-name projects.
Mel's Cite du Cinema
Mel's Cite du Cinema is a four-studio complex in downtown Montreal with 13 soundproof, air-conditioned soundstages in all. The largest is 37,000 square feet with overhead clearance of up to 50 feet. Recent credits include Warner Bros.' "300," New Line's planned 2008 release "Journey 3-D," Paramount's upcoming "The Spiderwick Chronicles" -- and Universal's "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" is currently shooting there.
Hengdian World Studios
Hengdian World Studios is the largest independent studio in China. Located in eastern China's Zhejiang Province near Shanghai, it offers 13 shooting bases across more than 800 acres, with sets reflecting a variety of historical periods from 19th century Hong Kong street scenes and ancient villages to a vast Buddhist temple and a soundstage covering over 20,000 square feet. Hengdian's most impressive feature is a full-scale replica of Beijing's Forbidden City with Ming and Qing dynasty palaces. Hengdian reports over $395 million in assets and 2,000 employees, with 21 subsidiaries offering auxiliary services such as accommodations, costuming, marketing, scenery and transportation. Hengdian produces about 50 titles each year, with Zhang Yimou's 2002 epic "Hero" its biggest hit to date. Lionsgate's "The Forbidden Kingdom," starring martial arts superstars Jackie Chan and Jet Li, is currently shooting at the studio.
One of the largest and oldest film studios in Europe, Barrandov Studios currently runs a total of 14 soundstages. Available for rental along with the soundstages is an enormous 160,000-square meter (1.7 million-square foot) backlot. The Barrandov Web site notes that filming in Prague is still less expensive than other international locations. Generally speaking, Barrandov costs are on average 25% below filming in the U.K. and 40% below filming in the United States.
Cite du Cinema
French superproducer Luc Besson is in the process of building a massive studio in the heart of Parisian suburb Saint Denis to house his production company, EuropaCorp. -- as well as to host Hollywood and other foreign films and give French filmmakers incentive to use local resources. The 65,000-square meter (700,000-square foot), e130 million ($174 million) "Cite du Cinema," being constructed in a former power plant, is co-funded by Tarak Ben Ammar's Quinta Communications and Thomson's Technicolor. The Gallic superstudio will provide all of the main technical specialists involved in making a film on one site, from shooting to postproduction and editing, making it the only production facility of its kind in France.
With 16 studios and 25,000 square meters (270,000 square feet) of soundstage space as well as a 17,000-square meter (183,000-square foot) backlot, Germany's Studio Babelsberg is a true international giant. The world's oldest major film studio, Babelsberg has become an international location of choice for epic period features such as 2002's "The Pianist" and the upcoming Tom Cruise starrer "Valkyrie." Babelsberg's reputation for typical German efficiency and its pool of below-the-line talent -- ranging from set builders to first DPs -- makes it a one-stop shop for big-budget productions. Germany's new 20% tax break scheme doesn't hurt either.
Ramoji Film City
The 1,666-acre Ramoji Film City, outside the southern city of Hyderabad, is the world's largest integrated film studio complex. It includes 40 studio floors of varying sizes, from 2,400 to 28,350 square feet. RFC offers (literally and figuratively) everything under the sun, from custom-designed locations and shooting stages to audio and digital editing postproduction and visual effects. There's such a wide variety of ready-built sets that RFC doubles as a popular family tourist destination.
Rome's venerable Cinecitta Studios, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, is looking to reinvent itself as a modern one-stop studio, with some 30 soundstages, five backlots, and a complete postproduction lab. Studio directors say that the studio, made famous for producing Golden Age epic films like "Ben Hur" and "Cleopatra" and modern films like 2002's "Gangs of New York" and the HBO series "Rome," is more ready than ever to compete for big-name projects.
Milan is set to be the home of an as-yet-unnamed studio complex to be set on the grounds of a former tobacco processing plant. The ambitious plan, with a price tag north of $400 million, will cover some 900,000 square feet and could produce its first film as soon as next year, setting itself up as Italy's most important rival to Rome's Cinecitta.
Seoul Studio Complex
In South Korea, the major studio remains the government-owned Seoul Studio Complex, located about an hour east of the capital in the scenic Namyangju region. Run by the Korean Film Council since 1997, the Seoul Studio Complex has 1.3 million square meters (13.4 million square feet) of indoor and outdoor studios, including seven shooting stages, a courtroom set, traditional Korean buildings, and numerous other facilities, making it by far the largest in Korea. But rising demand has led to the creation of newer studios, both public and private. Just north of Seoul is the private studio Art Service, featuring three soundstages. On the southern end of Korea, the Busan Film Commission runs the two-stage Busan Studio Complex. The general feeling in Korea's film community is that more studio space is still needed, so despite a recent decline in the number of films in production, several other facilities are under construction.
Fox Studios Baja
Located on the Baja California coast about 30 minutes south of the U.S.-Mexico border and built for the filming of "Titanic" in the mid-'90s, Fox Studios Baja is now a 40-acre facility with some of the largest tanks in the world for water-related shoots. Its proximity -- only a three-hour drive from Los Angeles -- is a strong plus. The production facilities include exterior and interior tanks with a combined volume of more than 20 million gallons. Fox Studios Baja also has stages for dry shoots, which have been used to film commercials, music videos and television programs. The studio offers screening rooms, workshops, wardrobe facilities, storage areas, equipment rentals, a heliport and a commissary. In addition to "Titanic," other Hollywood pictures shot at Fox Studios Baja include 1997's "Tomorrow Never Dies," 2001's "Pearl Harbor" and 2003's "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World."
Estudios Churubusco Azteca
Located in Mexico City on a 15-acre lot, Estudios Churubusco Azteca is one of Latin America's largest and most important production facilities. The studio has 10 stages ranging in size from 10,000 to 16,000 square feet. Additionally, Churubusco offers a wide array of production and postproduction services, including equipment rentals, a THX-certified recording and dubbing studio, screening rooms, on-site offices, workshops, film and digital labs, and storage areas. Currently, Walt Disney Pictures is filming "South of the Border" there. Churubusco also provides co-production opportunities; if the studio agrees to enter into a project as a co-producer, it will pick up 50% of the service costs.
After years of renting studio space all around Bangkok to produce colorful game shows and slapstick comedies, Thailand's No. 1 TV production company, Workpoint Entertainment, decided to build a home of its own. Using $12 million, much of it earned in its September 2004 public listing, Workpoint constructed a 345,000-square foot studio on the outskirts of the Thai capital. Completed last October, it houses what Workpoint claims is Asia's single largest TV studio (just under 20,000 square feet) and four smaller studios. In business for 18 years, Workpoint boasts Thailand's top-rated shows and one of the country's longest-running shows, "Ching Roi Ching Lan." Workpoint hopes that its new studio will attract foreign production companies to shoot in Thailand at about $1,000-$5000 per day.
Pinewood Shepperton, the largest studio facility group in the U.K., incorporates the famous sites and names of Pinewood, with its 007 stage; Shepperton, long associated with Ridley and Tony Scott; and Teddington Studios, which has played host to myriad television productions since it was built in the early 1900s. Together, the three sites boast 35 soundstages and 10 television studios along with large backlots and water tanks. Pinewood, which recently celebrated its 70th anniversary, includes one of the largest exterior water tanks in Europe in addition to interior tanks on six of its stages.
Ealing Studios in West London has had millions of dollars pumped into its 21st century upgrade, with a revamped headquarters on site, improved communications and refurbished soundstages. The home to the filming of the famous British Ealing comedies, the facility has just embarked on the second phase of a £50 million ($99 million) redevelopment to provide a further 25,000 square feet of multimedia space, due for completion at the end of 2007.
3 Mills Studios
3 Mills, which derives its name from centuries-old tidal mills that still stand on its island lot, is the largest single studio facility in London, with 16 soundstages totalling 120,000 square feet spread over 20 acres. A very East End affair, it is the London home of the indie filmmaker, with Danny Boyle, Tim Burton, David Cronenberg, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh and Michael Winterbottom all shooting there in recent years.
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