Netflix at Fort Monmouth: A ‘Made in New Jersey’ moment edges closer

Signing ceremony is big step toward creation of biggest TV/film studio on East Coast

There was a lot of talk of how, one day soon, “Made in New Jersey” will appear on the Netflix projects that will be created on the 12 state-of-the-art soundstages at Fort Monmouth. That’s the cool part of the state’s ever-growing film and television industry.

But, the real impact of Netflix’s nearly $1 billion investment in New Jersey will be behind the scenes — and before a single minute of action is filmed. That was the biggest takeaway from Gov. Phil Murphy’s event at Fort Monmouth on Friday, one in which he signed the minutes of a recent Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority meeting to officially jump-start the project.

Murphy called Netflix’s effort a truly revolutionary investment in not only Fort Monmouth’s future, but the state’s — one that will create thousands of jobs and bring untold millions of dollars into a local economy that was crushed when the base was closed a little more than a decade ago.

“This campus is no longer going to be a painful reminder of economic decline and disinvestment,” Murphy said. “Instead, Fort Monmouth now will stand as a symbol of renewed and revived hope. In the years to come, we’re going to put thousands of construction workers, laborers, electricians, carpenters, sheet-metal workers, Teamsters, plumbers, pipefitters and more to work right here at Fort Monmouth.

“Together, these union workers will literally build a new cornerstone for New Jersey’s burgeoning film and television production industry. And, then, once this facility is completed, our hard-working IATSC members will be the beating heart behind every production, pulling together sets and enabling the words written on paper to come to life.”

Netflix has committed to $848 million in capital investments to develop a state-of-the-art production facility on the 292-acre parcel that spans both Oceanport and Eatontown, becoming the largest project in both scale and investment in Fort Monmouth’s history.

This project will add to over 30 additional redevelopment projects that have already commenced since the military shuttered Fort Monmouth over a decade ago. It is estimated that the East Coast production facility will create thousands of largely union jobs — including more than 3,500 construction-related jobs and over 1,500 permanent production jobs.

Gov. Phil Murphy signs the meeting minutes. (Facebook/Gov. Phil Murphy)

In addition to the construction of 12 soundstages — comprising over 500,000 square feet of new development — current structures will also be redeveloped for other purposes such as studio backlots and office space, and a myriad of additional uses in support of production activities.

Murphy was joined at the event by Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos — literally a Jersey guy. He was born here.

Sarandos said he’s eager to get going.

“Netflix Studios Fort Monmouth will drive significant economic growth and create meaningful job opportunities for people in New Jersey while boosting the vibrant production ecosystem here in the state where the modern film industry was born,” he said. “While we still have a lot of work to do, we’re excited to continue partnering with Gov. Murphy, local officials and the community as we work to transform this historic space into a world-class production facility.”

Since FMERA authorized the purchase and sale and redevelopment agreement with Netflix for the property in December 2022, Netflix has continued working to obtain the additional approvals necessary to make this project a reality.

Friday marked another important step in the process, as the governor’s signature on the meeting minutes — and an amendment that will permit the creation of new, affordable housing units to serve the community — will be sent to both host municipalities for consideration and public comment.

State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Ocean Twp.) said the project is a win-win.

“I continue to be excited by progress made on the Netflix production facility at the old Fort Monmouth campus,” he said. “This project is destined to bring a lasting economic boost and star power to Monmouth County and the greater Shore region, creating both permanent production jobs as well as construction jobs. This is a win-win redevelopment that holds long-term promise for the entire community, and will no doubt also benefit local merchants, entertainment venues and area restaurants.”

Once the state and local approval process has been finalized, the project will be completed in two phases over the course of several years. Upon its opening, the facility will be the single-largest production facility in New Jersey’s history and contribute to the state’s ever-growing film and television industry.

Over the past six years, the administration has worked alongside the Legislature and the New Jersey Motion Picture & Television Commission to create a film incentive program that has helped attract more business to the state. Last year alone, the film and television production industry poured more than $650 million into the state’s economy — an increase of more than $150 million over the year prior — and created more than 8,500 jobs.

Tim Sullivan, the CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, said the announcement is a great example of good government.

“Gov. Murphy’s holistic approach to nurturing the state’s film industry is helping to ensure our communities are poised to attract leading studios like Netflix, who will revitalize a long-vacant area of the former fort, and create good-paying union jobs and opportunities for small businesses,” he said.

FMERA Executive Director Kara Kopach obviously is thrilled.

“Our team is incredibly passionate about Fort Monmouth’s revitalization and is committed to surpassing the fort’s prior role as a major economic driver in the region,” she said. “A project of this scale has the potential not only to create thousands of jobs, but will also result in significant investment on the fort, and spur local development in support of the project. The magnitude of Netflix’s investment is an absolute windfall for our stakeholders and the state of New Jersey. We’re eager to see this project come to fruition.”