Arts organizations partner to open TV, film complex in Newark

Photo Courtesy of Brian McDonough
Above is a rendering of the 12-acre television and film complex that will open in Newark.

NEWARK, NJ — Great Point Studios, a studio investment/management business specializing in film and television infrastructure, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center announced a partnership with global content leader Lionsgate to build a major new production facility in Newark. The facility will be owned and operated by Great Point Studios. As the facility’s long-term anchor tenant, Lionsgate will receive naming rights to the studio. NJPAC will manage public affairs and community relations for the studio and create educational programs and internships for Newark high school and college students.

The facility will be the first purpose-built studio in New Jersey specifically constructed for television and film production. It will be located in Newark’s South Ward at the site of the former Seth Boyden Housing site. Operations are expected to begin in late 2024.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s active encouragement, in addition to the recently passed legislation on film and television incentives, was instrumental in attracting Lionsgate to New Jersey, according to Great Point Studios and NJPAC.

“One of my administration’s priorities has been to enhance New Jersey’s film industry and create new revenue streams for our state,” Murphy said. “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. As a result, the introduction of the Lionsgate Newark Studio not only promotes the economic vitality of our state, but also provides good jobs and access to opportunity for all South Ward community members.”

“Bringing a project of this magnitude into Newark is a monumental victory for our city,” Mayor Ras Baraka said. “It will bring hundreds of new jobs, create new educational opportunities for our students and invigorate the revitalization of the South Ward.”

“The Lionsgate studio complex is a game changer for Newark and Essex County,” Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. said. “The economic development and jobs that it will bring will complement the ongoing revitalization initiatives that we have undertaken in Essex County Weequahic Park and at Weequahic Golf Course, the first public golf course in New Jersey, and help rebuild and stabilize the South Ward. Essex County was the birthplace of motion pictures, and we look forward to the industry returning here to its roots.”

Great Point Studios founder and CEO Robert Halmi called upon decades of experience as founder of the Hallmark Channel and a producer of more than 400 film and television projects to create a facility that fits the needs of today’s television and film productions.

The 300,000-square-foot, full-service, modern entertainment complex will include production stages ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 square feet, offices, support space, and parking for 400 cars and 65 trucks. The facility 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. It is anticipated to create more than 600 new long-term jobs, with priority for positions going to residents of Newark, and generate more than $800 million of annual economic impact for Newark and New Jersey.

“We have a shared vision for the future of the entertainment industry, and it’s reflected in every detail we put into this complex,” Halmi said. “Given the rise in studio production post-COVID, we are confident that expanding our studio program into New Jersey will be a welcome addition.”

“This is a great opportunity to scale our East Coast studio footprint with our partners at Great Point Studios and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center to support our robust film and television production,” Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said. “Lionsgate Studios Newark is also an important part of our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, enabling us to create hundreds of jobs, provide educational opportunities to local students and contribute to the economic revitalization of the South Ward of Newark.”

NJPAC originated the idea for the project with the city and the Newark Housing Authority, developed a coalition of partners, and collaborated to bring the project to fruition.

“NJPAC continually seeks opportunities to act as a catalyst for economic development in its home city of Newark,” NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber said. “We are grateful to Mayor Baraka and the Newark Housing Authority for embracing our project to bring a world-class film studio back to the city where celluloid movie film was invented and to Gov. Murphy for creating tax incentives to make New Jersey more attractive to the film industry and especially for the development of studios, like Lionsgate Newark. Without their collective efforts, this project wouldn’t have seen the light of day.”

The 12-acre, $125 million–plus facility will be owned by a joint venture between Great Point Studios and its institutional financial partner, Lindsay Goldberg, a private investment firm focused on partnering with entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses to help them grow. Matrix Development will serve as the project developer and Gensler, a global architecture, design and planning firm, has signed on to lead the way with architecture and master planning.