Newark is ready for its closeup.
A major new TV and film production complex is set to be built in the city—the first studio of its kind to be constructed in New Jersey.
The $125 million, 12-acre TV and film facility is expected to include six large soundstages, and will be built on the site of an abandoned housing project in the city, it was announced Tuesday. The project is an indication of the state’s growing focus on the film and television industry, following the announcement of about $2 billion in showbiz tax breaks announced in 2020.
Operations are expected to begin in late 2024.
The new facility is being created in a partnership with Lionsgate, Great Point Studios, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Lionsgate, which has produced dozens of famous films, is set to be the long-term anchor tenant of the 300,000-square-foot entertainment complex, which will include production stages, catering services, set building, and offices. Great Point Studios will own and operate the facility; its founder, Robert Halmi, is the creator of the Hallmark Channel and a producer of more than 400 film and television projects.
The project is anticipated to create more than 600 new long-term jobs, with Newark residents being given priority, according to a joint statement from Lionsgate, Great Point and NJPAC; it is also expected to generate more than $800 million in annual economic impact for Newark and New Jersey.
The complex is being built in the city’s South Ward, at the site of the former Seth Boyden Housing site, located near Newark Liberty International Airport.
New Jersey has, of course, been the setting for multiple productions over the years, most notably The Sopranos, which ran from 1999-2007 and received mostly a warm reception from residents. “We were kind of the home team,” Steve Schirripa, who played Bobby “Bacala” Baccalieri Jr. on the show, previously told New Jersey Monthly. “The Sopranos were the Yankees of New Jersey. New Jersey doesn’t have a baseball squad.”
In more recent years, movies like Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story have shot in New Jersey.
NJPAC is set to manage public affairs and community relations for the new studio in Newark and create educational programs and internships for Newark high school and college students. “One of my administration’s priorities has been to enhance New Jersey’s film industry and create new revenue streams for our State,” Governor Phil Murphy said in a statement. “With the addition of the Lionsgate Newark Studio, New Jersey will cement its position as a hub for television and film production.”
NJPAC originated the idea for the project with the City of Newark and the Newark Housing Authority, developed a coalition of partners, and collaborated to bring the project to public announcement.
“Bringing a project of this magnitude into Newark is a monumental victory for our city,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement. “It will bring hundreds of new jobs, create new educational opportunities for our students, and invigorate the revitalization of the South Ward.”