Lionsgate to Build $100 Million Studio in Newark
The backdrop for many successful movies and television shows, Newark’s film credits include The Joker and The Dark Knight Rises of the Batman franchise, The Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark, the HBO series “The Plot Against America,” based on the novel by Philip Roth and Queen Latifah’s TV series The Equalizer.
When recent developments are completed, not only the city’s buildings and streets will attract filmmakers, but brand new indoor studio space will ramp up its Hollywood appeal.
On the 15-acre site of the long-abandoned Seth Boyden housing project, a $100 million, state-of-the-art television and movie studio with six soundstages will make Newark a major player in the film production industry.
Scheduled to open in March 2024, Lionsgate Newark Studio, an enormous facility for building stage sets, filming, and editing, with storage for equipment and crew trucks, and a location catering hall continues Newark’s growing reputation as a destination for creative arts and artists. The 300,000 square foot structure being built by film studio developer Great Point Studios in partnership with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center is expected to create long-term 600 jobs, in addition to the construction jobs needed to build it.
“Bringing a project of this magnitude into Newark is a monumental victory for our city,” said City of Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “It will bring hundreds of new jobs, create new educational opportunities for our students, and invigorate the revitalization of the South Ward.”
Priority will be given to Newark residents who apply for work at the massive studio. The economic impact for Newark and New Jersey is projected to be more than $800 million.
New Jersey has a long history of movie development, beginning with Thomas Edison’s invention of the Kinetoscope, which captured movement in a series of rapid photographs to create a “motion” picture. Monkeyshines, a short film of a man gyrating in 1889 is acknowledged as the world’s first movie, shot at Edison’s laboratories in West Orange, N.J. He created the world’s first movie studio, the Black Maria, on the property four years later.
In the early days of silent films, Fort Lee, N.J. was the center of the movie universe with Paramount, Fox, and Universal all opening studios, turning the borough into the first movie industry company town, before Hollywood took over in the 1920s.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the creation of Lionsgate will add to the state’s legacy as a leader in the film industry. “One of my administration’s priorities has been to enhance New Jersey’s film industry and create new revenue streams for our state,” Governor Murphy said when announcing the deal. “With the addition of the Lionsgate Newark Studio, 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.”
Lionsgate is the country’s newest major movie studio, creating 26 Oscar-nominated films since 2016, and best known for The Hunger Games movie franchise. The Lionsgate Newark movie studio development will be accompanied by a 200-unit senior housing development and another 200 market-rate apartments nearby, to be built by Boraie Development, which has partnered with Shaquille O’Neal for projects at 777 McCarter and 50 Rector Park.