Lionsgate Awarded First-Ever ‘Studio Partner’ Designation by State of New Jersey

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Dec.21 announced the awarding of its first-ever Studio Partner designation to Lionsgate, which is set to occupy 253,000 square feet of the 350,000-square foot Newark production facility. It will be the first studio in New Jersey specifically constructed for TV and film production. The partnership between Great Point Studios, Lionsgate and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) was first announced in May.

The facility, which is slated to be completed in 2024, will be owned and operated by Great Point Studios, after approval by the NJEDA board.

The first series reportedly set to begin its second season production in the still unfinished facility is original Starz show “Run the World.”

Starz original series, “Run the World”.

The studio is funded in part by the New Jersey Film and Digital Media Tax Credit Program, which  provides a credit against the corporation business tax and the gross income tax for expenses incurred to produce certain films and digital media content in the state.

The Studio Partner designation awarded to Lionsgate is one of only three available under the tax incentive program and will allow the studio to capture additional above-the-line wage and salary costs as qualified expenses. Above-the-line wages and salary are payments made to highly paid individuals like directors, producers, writers and performers.

The studio partner may also petition for tax credits for above-the-line wages and salary expenses of up to $15 million, $25 million, $40 million or $60 million depending on the amount of qualified film production expenses involved in the project. In addition, $100 million of the allocation for film and digital media tax credits is set aside for studio partners like Lionsgate.

As the facility’s long-term anchor tenant, Lionsgate received naming rights to the studio, with Great Point Studios operating the facility and the NJPAC managing public affairs and community relations, including the creation of educational programs and internships for Newark high school and local college students.

Governor Phil Murphy’s active encouragement, in addition to the recently passed legislation on film and television incentives, were instrumental in attracting Lionsgate to New Jersey.

The Lionsgate Newark project sits on the former site of the Seth Boyden housing complex in the South Ward section of Newark. When completed, the complex 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.

Once fully operational, initial projections anticipate more than 600 new full-time jobs will be created, generating more than $800 million of annual economic impact for Newark and New Jersey.

“This is a wonderful development for the many entertainment industry workers and performers in New Jersey and for the state itself,” Great Point Studios co-founder Robert Halmi said in a statement.

“This is a great day for the entertainment industry and for the people of Newark, who will reap immense benefits from this investment in career and educational opportunities,” added John Schreiber, CEO of NJPAC.

Lionsgate Building Production Studio in New York

Lionsgate, together with Great Point Capital Management, a media-focused investment fund, Sept. 5 announced it has signed a letter of intent to build a major new production facility in Yonkers, New York, with Lionsgate becoming a long-term anchor tenant and investor in the studio complex.

As anchor tenant, Lionsgate will have naming rights to the studio.

Construction on the Yonkers site will start this November and the facility will be up and running in late autumn 2020.

The $100+ million entertainment complex will include three 20,000-square-feet and two 10,000-square-feet stages, a fully operational back lot and the opportunity to create a location-based entertainment property similar to what Lionsgate has already established in China, the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.

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A key investment partner and project developer is National Resources. The company has operated in the New York area for 30 years and has tallied over $1.5 billion of redevelopment.

National Resources has a wide range of experience in design and construction, with projects including automotive dealerships, warehouse facilities, municipal facilities and retail stores. National Resources will be responsible for all phases of design and construction of the studio complex.

The studio complex will be located less than 30 minutes from Manhattan on the Hudson River in downtown Yonkers. It is situated along the newly created Saw Mill River Plaza and next to the new Yonkers train station.

“We’re pleased to partner with the Great Point and National Resources teams on a modern film and television production complex that will provide a great home for many of our content creation initiatives,” Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a statement.

Joseph Cotter, president of National Resources, said the city of Yonkers has been very supportive of the studio facility. The growth and revitalization of Yonkers as well as its proximity to New York City make it an ideal location for a film studio.

“This is a game changer for the City of Yonkers and is a testament to the ongoing revitalization of our waterfront,” said Yonkers Mayor, Mike Spano. “Yonkers already hosts dozens of on-location shoots every year with film days tripling over the last five years, so building a permanent sound stage here makes perfect sense.”

Adviser to the fund is London-based Great Point Media Group, a media and entertainment company owned by Jim Reeve and Robert Halmi (who will also be an investor in the new studios).

It has provided investment and arranged financing for more than 50 production companies, with clients including Lionsgate, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Google, Sky, BBC, ITV, Universal, AMC, Hallmark, Sony and Paramount.