EDA board gives Netflix ‘Studio Partner’ designation, enabling it benefit from expanded film tax credits

With approval, Netflix agrees to work at state-of-art facility at Fort Monmouth for at least 10 years

In a move that will enable Netflix to potentially access additional tax incentives, the board of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Wednesday designated Netflix a “Studio Partner” of the state.

To be sure, this is not a one-way award.

To earn the distinction, Netflix committed to serving as a production company that has site control of a production facility that is at least 250,000 square feet for at least 10 years.

Gov. Phil Murphy, who has long worked to help New Jersey become a hub for television and movie production, applauded the announcement — saying he hopes it will be just the first of many such announcements.

“The expanded Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program, coupled with strong state support, make a compelling case for the return of major production companies to New Jersey — the birthplace of film,” he said. “With Netflix leading the way, the creation of new, world-class studios has solidified New Jersey’s standing as a national leader in film and television production. These substantial investments will create thousands of good-paying jobs, support small businesses and vendors and stimulate the regional economy.”

Netflix already has proven to have an economic benefit for the state.

In January 2023, Netflix entered into a purchase and redevelopment agreement with the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority to purchase 292 acres and develop over 1 million square feet of studio production and support space at the former Fort Monmouth.

The 280,000-square-foot state-of-the-art production studio campus will include 12 soundstages, backlot areas, an office building, and other production support facilities. Netflix plans to open the full facility in 2028.

Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said Thursday’s announcement is a big day for the company.

“I want to thank Gov. Murphy and his administration for their steadfast commitment to bringing this project to fruition,” he said. “Today takes us one step closer to making New Jersey an international center for studio production, and Netflix is excited to be a part of it.”

EDA CEO Tim Sullivan said there are wins all around.

“Under Gov. Murphy’s leadership, film production continues to thrive in the Garden State, exemplified by Netflix’s commitment to build a world-class studio in Fort Monmouth,” he said. “With the advantages of a generous Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program and today’s designation, Netflix is poised to grow its presence in New Jersey, revitalizing local communities and providing countless exciting career opportunities.”

Total production spending in New Jersey has surged since 2018, when Murphy reinstated the Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program. Funded through 2039, the program provides a tax credit of up to 35% of qualified film production expenses, including a Diversity Tax Credit of up to 4% for productions that employ the services of women or people of color.

The program was expanded in 2021, increasing the annual allocation to $400 million and granting the NJEDA authority to designate eligible film production companies as Studio Partners, which must commit to occupying large studio developments in New Jersey that have the potential to have large economic impacts. Studio Partners have access to a separate $150 million pool of incentives under the Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program and allows a production company to capture additional above-the-line salaries and wages as part of its tax credit award.

Jon Crowley, the executive director of the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission, said he expects more production companies to come to the state.

“Netflix’s decision to build a top-tier production studio in New Jersey symbolizes the momentum of the state’s film industry, attracting more studios to the breadth of local talent, diverse filming locations, and generous incentives that the Garden State offers,” he said. “Today’s designation will allow Netflix to access increased benefits under the successful Film and Digital Media Tax Credit program, and our continued partnership over the next decade will bolster New Jersey’s standing as a hub of media production.”