Comcast’s Sky Studios Bowing Production Facilities in the U.S.

With media companies scrambling to create localized content worldwide, Comcast-owned Sky Studios in the United Kingdom reportedly is launching production hubs in New York and Knoxville, Tenn.

Dubbed The Hive, the facilities will cater to Sky Studios and third-party companies offering myriad production services, including casting, gear, wardrobe, set design, transcription, media management and staffing, among other services,” according to Deadline.com, which first reported the move.

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The facilities will be headed by Comcast subsidiary Jupiter Entertainment and its former senior executive Robert Twilley. At Jupiter, Twilley managed production and business for more than 75 series.

Robert Twilley

“Launching The Hive is the next step in our ambition to make Sky Studios a world-leading creative and production force and home to the industry’s best talent,” Jane Millichip, chief commercial officer at Sky Studios, said in a statement.

Jane Millichip

Sky Studios, which produced the acclaimed “Chernobyl” mini-series for HBO, has more than 50 shows in production globally.

Millichip says the expanded production hubs in the U.S. will expedite “great ideas and unique stories” into production sooner.

“Under Robert’s leadership, The Hive will quickly become a vital resource for the industry with ambitious plans for expansion,” she said.

WarnerMedia Readying ‘Friends’ Pop-Up Retail Store

WarnerMedia Aug. 2 began selling tickets to a “Friends”-themed pop-up retail/promotion store running Sept. 7 to Oct. 6 in Manhattan, N.Y.

Created by Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Warner Bros. Television Group and Superfly — the latter responsible for “The Seinfeld Experience” store operating through February 2020 in New York — the concept targets consumer interest in TV nostalgia, memorabilia and show artifacts surrounding the 25th anniversary of the “Friends” sitcom debut Sept. 22, 1994, on NBC.

The situation comedy about six friends in their 20s and early 30s living in New York City starred an ensemble cast that included Courtney Cox and then-unknowns Jennifer Aniston, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow and David Schwimmer. It aired in primetime until May 6, 2004.

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Located in the heart of Manhattan’s SoHo district, the ticketholder entrance will be at 76 Mercer St. (between Spring & Broome), and the retail store entrance will be at 503 Broadway. Store hours are seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fans can reserve a time slot to visit with a ticket purchase priced at $29.50.

“The fascination and universal appeal of the TV series lives on with fans of all ages,” Peter van Roden, SVP, Global Themed Entertainment, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, said in a statement. “As we celebrate the show’s milestone anniversary, we are excited to bring the ‘Friends’ experience to life for our fans in a way that pays homage to the remarkable cast of characters, iconic sets and instantly quotable moments.”

WarnerMedia Innovation Lab Becomes Reality with Pending 5G New York Office Construction

WarnerMedia June 17 announced the location and architecture firm for its pending WarnerMedia Innovation Lab New York headquarters — powered by parent AT&T’s upstart 5G wireless network.

The Lab, which aims to address changing consumer media habits creatively and from a marketing/advertising perspective, also announced further details on its partnerships with WarnerMedia Ad Sales and with Xandr, AT&T’s advertising and analytics company.

The 20,000 square foot facility located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, will feature an immersive zone for showcasing consumer-ready experiences visible to the public, flexible indoor and outdoor event spaces, dedicated R&D environments and an open and collaborative modern work space.

“The Lab is more than a technology incubator, but also a dream factory for us to create the wonderment that fans have come to love and expect from WarnerMedia,” Jesse Redniss, GM, WarnerMedia Innovation Lab, said in a statement. “Here we’ll flex the best of WarnerMedia’s creative storytelling capabilities combined with cutting edge technology from AT&T and our partners to deliver experiences that will be talked about for a lifetime.”

WarnerMedia properties include Warner Bros. Studios, HBO, Turner and Otter Media.

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The Lab, which is slated to open in early 2020, will bring 5G experiences to life through exploration and development initiatives, enabling a real-time virtualized collaboration ecosystem across WarnerMedia and the AT&T offerings.

In addition to the New York-based Lab, AT&T 5G initiatives include Warner Bros. in Los Angeles in time for AT&T SHAPEThe Lounge by AT&T in Seattle and WarnerMedia’s Atlanta studios.

“By working across AT&T, we’re able to combine the latest in 5G technology with immersive content experiences and cutting-edge advertising capabilities,” said David Christopher, president of AT&T Mobility and Entertainment. “The WarnerMedia Innovation Lab will be a space where developers, creators and visitors will be inspired to push the boundaries of entertainment, all powered by the company that first introduced the U.S. to the power of mobile 5G.”

Netflix Expanding New York Presence With New Office, Production Facility

Amazon may have left, but Netflix is expanding its New York state of mind.

The SVOD behemoth April 18 announced it is spending $100 million for a new production facility in New York, that also includes office space for 127 executives in content, marketing and production.

The streaming video pioneer will also inhabit a Brooklyn-based production space with six sound stages and the capacity to house thousands of jobs within five years.

“Netflix is innovative, creative and bold — just like New Yorkers — and the expansion of this cutting-edge company in New York once again demonstrates the Empire State is open for business,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

Netflix’s new corporate offices will take up approximately 100,000 square feet at 888 Broadway in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. The offices will house the aforementioned executive positions in addition to Netflix’s 32 current New York-based employees.

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The company — which has a long history of production in New York including “Orange Is the New Black,” “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” She’s Gotta Have ItThe IrishmanSomeone Great, “Private Life” and “Russian Doll” — has also leased approximately 161,000 square feet to build six sound stages at 333 Johnson Avenue in Brooklyn.

“Thanks to Netflix, online streaming has become as commonplace as cable television, and maybe even more accessible — and their decision to expand in New York is a validation of our work to support and develop New York’s technology, entertainment and production industries,” said Empire State Development commissioner Howard Zemsky.

To support Netflix’s infrastructure expansion, Empire State Development offered up to $4 million in performance-based tax credits over 10 years, which are directly tied to real job creation. To receive the full incentive, Netflix must create the 127 jobs by 2024 at its new executive production office and then retain those new jobs and their existing 32 office jobs for another five years.

The tax incentive pales in comparison to the billions offered Amazon, which ultimately pulled out of its Long Island headquarters expansion following political pushback.

Labor leaders applauded the news.

“Hardworking crew members are the foundation of New York’s film industry, and this project invests in their future,” said John Ford, president of Motion Picture Studio Mechanics Local 52, I.A.T.S.E.

“There are few companies in our industry that are as forward thinking as Netflix,” said Tom O’Donnell, president, Theatrical Teamsters Local 817. “With this news, we’ll continue to add solid, middle class jobs to already record employment. The climate for this to happen would not exist without the wildly successful New York State Film Tax Credit Program — and I applaud Governor Cuomo for his foresight and continued support.”