Vineland, a small city in Cumberland County—once home to the Progresso soup company and the poultry industry—is on the verge of becoming a filmmaking hub in South Jersey.
Greg D’Alessandro, a writer and producer who grew up in Franklin Lakes, has opened a 40,000-square-foot production studio in town. His company, Weekly World News Film (yes, that Weekly World News), filmed its new movie, Zombie Wedding, there this past fall.
Established in 1979, Weekly World News (WWN), a satirical supermarket tabloid, went out of print in 2007. Four years ago, D’Alessandro helped to relaunch it, focusing instead on TV shows, films and podcasts associated with the brand. He is CEO and editor in chief.
Much of its content is comedy horror, including Bat Boy: The Musical. When D’Alessandro was hunting for a location for his production studio, he met Vineland Mayor Anthony Finucci, who was eager to bring new businesses to his city, located between Philadelphia and Atlantic City. Finucci offered him a low-cost, extended lease on a large, long-empty building. The city invested in the film, and the company opened its doors in September 2022. The full studio will launch this year with a Volumetric display, an LED screen that allows for 3-D, full-volume filmmaking rather than green screens, says D’Alessandro.
Zombie Wedding is part of a trilogy, and WWN is also producing a documentary about the newspaper.
D’Alessandro also plans to rent the studio to other production companies. “We want people to use the building and help Vineland,” he says, noting his crew spent more than $800,000 in town on hotels, restaurants and bars during a recent filming.
They also used residents as crew members and extras.
“We want to spend as much money as possible in the town,” he says. “It’s a perfect place for filming; the streets and town look like anywhere, America, and the people here are nice. It has great potential.”
The film industry all over the state has been exploding in recent years. Since 2018, when Governor Phil Murphy reinstated generous tax incentives for film and television projects being shot in New Jersey, the number of productions here has increased significantly, from two in 2018 to 28 projects in 2021.
Many of the films that were produced here over the past few years were high-profile projects with big stars and directors, including Zach Braff, who grew up in South Orange and Maplewood and filmed his 2023 release, A Good Person, in his hometowns.
New Jersey has everything—from gritty, urban settings in cities like Newark, Paterson and Jersey City, to the suburbs, to the Shore, to the mountains. And much of it has never been featured in a film or TV show, until now.
With these unique locations, New Jersey is becoming a major draw for filmmakers and TV studios alike looking for fresh, new places to set their stories.
So you think you know Jersey? Check out our list of fascinating things you might not know about our state.
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