Rise in TV production signals demand for soundstages

94% studio space occupied in 2020, FilmLA report shows

Universal Studios backlot (Twitter via Bioreconstruct)
Universal Studios backlot (Twitter via Bioreconstruct)

TV production rose 10 percent in 2020 from the prior year on soundstages and studio backlots across Los Angeles County, according to a new report from FilmLA.

Television shows made up 72 percent of the shoot days filmed on sound stages and back lots in 2020, a year marked by suspension of filming for several months because of the pandemic, the San Fernando Business Journal reported.

That’s a boost from 2019, when television series made up 62 percent of soundstage and backlot shoot day activity.

“Along with other kinds of projects, partner studios reported a total of 307 television series filming partially or entirely on their stages in 2020,” the Hollywood-based nonprofit that coordinates on-location filming permits said in its report.

The uptick in production comes as many institutional investors and real estate firms are pouring money into studio real estate, prompted by increasing demand from streaming services for content.

On average, 94 percent of studio space was occupied in 2020 — a slight increase from the 93 percent occupancy in the prior year.

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The report included data from six unnamed major Hollywood studios and seven large independent operators of soundstage facilities. Together, these studios control 3.7 million of the estimated 5.4 million square feet of certified stage space available in L.A. County, or 68 percent.

FilmLA reported most stage operators had not lost a single lessee when the pandemic hit in the second quarter of 2020. Those with sudden vacancies found it easy to attract new customers.

L.A. is seeing 14 soundstage construction projects currently under development by independent operators or by major studios, FilmLA said. These include current expansions of the Universal Studios lot and the planned construction of new stages on the Warner Brothers Ranch in Burbank.

“If all of these projects are built, the count of certified stages in the region would increase by approximately 27 percent, and square footage by an unknown but considerable sum,” FilmLA reported.

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[SFVBJ] – Dana Bartholomew

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