The state’s efforts to become a leader in film and television productions received a major boost Tuesday afternoon when Great Point Studios — in partnership with Lionsgate and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center — announced its intention to build Lionsgate Newark Studios, a 300,000-square-foot, full-service, modern entertainment complex set on 12 acres in the South Ward of Newark.
The facility, which will be located at the site of the former Seth Boyden Housing complex, will be the first purpose-built studio in New Jersey specifically constructed for TV and film production. It will include five production stages ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 square feet — and will offer a full set of production services on site, including grip and electric, equipment, props, set building, restaurants, location catering, cleaning service and security.
Those involved anticipate that Lionsgate Newark Studios will create more than 600 new long-term jobs, with priority for positions going to residents of Newark, and generate more than $800 million of annual economic impact for Newark and New Jersey. The facility also plans to create numerous internships for area high school and college students.
The facility is aiming to open in the fourth quarter of 2024.
Lionsgate Newark Studios will be owned and operated by Great Point Studios, a studio investment/management business based in Yonkers, New York, that specializes in film and television infrastructure.
Lionsgate, a leading global content leader based in Santa Monica, California, will be the facility’s long-term anchor tenant.
NJPAC, which will serve as the master developer, will manage public affairs and community relations for the studio and create educational programs and the internship program.
Gilbane Building Co. of Newark is the construction manager on the project.
Gov. Phil Murphy, who has made increasing the amount of TV and film production in the state a key economic priority, was thrilled to make the announcement — and credited the recently passed legislation on film and television incentives for helping to seal the deal.
“One of my administration’s priorities has been to enhance New Jersey’s film industry and create new revenue streams for our state,” he said. “With the addition of the Lionsgate Newark Studios, New Jersey will cement its position as a hub for television and film production with its proximity to all forms of transportation and access to more than 14,000 qualified union members in the region. As a result, the introduction of the Lionsgate Newark Studios not only promotes the economic vitality of our state, but also provides good jobs and access to opportunity for all South Ward community members.”
Film and TV production in the state has taken off in recent years. In 2021, despite the impact of the pandemic, the sector spent approximately $500 million for productions.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka is excited about the revenue that will come from the studio — but more thrilled about its potential impact on Newark residents.
“Bringing a project of this magnitude into Newark is a monumental victory for our city,” he said. “It will bring hundreds of new jobs, create new educational opportunities for our students, and invigorate the revitalization of the South Ward.”
Lionsgate Newark Studios, a 12-acre, $125 million facility, will be owned by a joint venture that includes Great Point Studio’s institutional financial partner, an affiliate of Lindsay Goldberg, a private investment firm focused on partnering with entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses to help them grow.
Matrix Development will serve as the project developer and Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm, will lead the way with architecture and master planning. The facility will include office and support space and include a parking lot that can accommodate 400 cars and 65 trucks.
Great Point Studios founder Robert Halmi, the founder of the Hallmark Channel and a producer of more than 400 film & television projects, said the facility will fit the needs of today’s television and film productions. He said the partners in the project will be key to its success.
“We have a shared vision for the future of the entertainment industry, and it’s reflected in every detail we put into this complex,” he said. “Given the rise in studio production post-COVID, we are confident that expanding our studio program into New Jersey will be a welcome addition.”
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer agreed.
“This is a great opportunity to scale our East Coast studio footprint with our partners at Great Point Studios and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to support our increased film & television production,” he said. “Lionsgate Newark Studios is also an important part of our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, enabling us to create hundreds of jobs, provide educational opportunities to local students and contribute to the economic revitalization of the South Ward of Newark.”
NJPAC, which originated the idea for the project with the city of Newark and the Newark Housing Authority, developed a coalition of partners and collaborated to bring the project to public announcement. CEO John Schreiber said Lionsgate Studios Newark represents what can happen when the arts community, business community and government officials work together.
“NJPAC continually seeks opportunities to act as a catalyst for economic development in its home city of Newark,” he said. “We are grateful to Mayor Baraka and the Newark Housing Authority for embracing our project to bring a world class film studio back to the city where celluloid movie film was invented, and to Gov. Murphy for creating tax incentives to make New Jersey more attractive to the film industry and especially for the development of studios, like Lionsgate Newark. Without their collective efforts, this project wouldn’t have seen the light of day.”