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Universal Studios plans new LA stage builds

HollywoodUniversal Studios will build ten new sound stages at its existing facility in Los Angeles by the end of 2018, despite a lack of tax credit support in California for major live-action feature films. 

It was reported that the new, modernised sound stages will range in size from 16,000 sq ft to 18,000 sq ft and will cater for all kinds of shoots including scripted TV, comedy and new media filming which are currently the dominant form of screen production shooting in California.

California has massively boosted its filming tax credit support, but the money mostly targets high-end TV production. The state attracts very few big-budget feature shoots.

Sixteen live-action films were made in California in 2015, but only seven of these were awarded tax credit support, according to new figures from FilmLA. The report also revealed that in 2015, for the first time, none of the year’s 25 biggest global box-office hits were filmed in California. 

“If you go to places like Atlanta or Montreal or even New York, sadly they treat us much better than they treat us in California, and because of the significant cost savings, especially in the motion picture area, so much of the production of every studio is outside of where it should be,” said Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal, in an interview with Variety.

“We would all like to keep it in Los Angeles. On rare occasions we do shoot in LA. But I will tell you that maybe 80% of the films that are shot, and maybe more, are shot outside of LA.”

The sound stage announcement from Universal Studios could be regarded as a commitment to keeping screen production in California on a long-term basis.

For more on filming in California see our production guide.