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Building an Epicenter

In what the company calls the “content hub of the future,” NBCUniversal is currently building eight soundstages in an expansion and updating of its century-old Universal Studios lot.

 Bastien and Associates Inc. will design the new soundstages, which will be constructed by next summer. 

Grading has already been completed on what was previously unusable hillside, expanding space for the project from 8 acres to 12 acres. The new soundstages will have solar panels to allow for working off the power grid during peak hours and qualify as LEED Gold structures. 

Already under construction just beyond Gate 4 from the Barham Boulevard side of the property, each of the eight soundstages will span 18,000 square feet, for a total of 144,000 square feet. With an additional 48,000-square-foot base camp, the new soundstages will provide 1,000 construction jobs and eventually will host more than 1,300 production jobs over the first decade of operations. 

The new soundstages up Universal’s total to 14 built in recent years, with two stages built in 2016 and four stages erected in 2018. 

Upon the completion of the new filming facilities, there will be a total of 37 soundstages at Universal Studios. 

Although the Comcast Corp.-owned studio did not reveal the cost of the project, NBCUniversal said it is investing $1 billion into an upgrade of the entire Universal lot. 

Office project

In addition to the soundstages, upgrades on the Universal City lot include a new office complex.

Last year, NBCUniversal began construction off Lankershim Boulevard on an 11-story, 350,000-square-foot creative office building for production companies working at the studio. There will be enough parking spaces to accommodate 1,250 vehicles. 

NBCUniversal is also replacing its commissary, screening rooms and post-production facilities. The new employee commons area will include a three-story, 84,000-square-foot commissary building that will include a sit-down restaurant, a state-of-the art theatrical sound-mixing facility, two screening rooms and a flexible event space. 

A paseo will provide connective walkways with landscaping lined with functional indoor and outdoor gathering spaces for meetings and dining. 

All of these components will be completed by late 2023. 

“Content creation is the driver,” according to a note on Universal’s plan for the soundstages. The studio is seeking to “become the creative epicenter of Los Angeles” and elevate its brand and the employee/partner experience, it added.  

The studio is also aiming at creating “the workplace of tomorrow” and serve “as a catalyst for the recovery of California’s film and entertainment industry.” 

Despite the COVID-19 outbreak impacting theatrical releases, NBCUniversal has scored some massive hits at the box office, including “F9,” the latest in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, which grossed $721 million worldwide; and “Halloween Kills,” which took in $130 million. NBCUniversal also handled international distribution on the long-awaited final Daniel Craig James Bond movie “No Time to Die,” which earned $708 million worldwide, including $558 million of that tally in international market to become the highest-grossing U.S. film since the pandemic began. 

 

Michael Aushenker
Michael Aushenker
A graduate of Cornell University, Michael covers commercial real estate for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. Prior to the Business Journal, Michael covered the community and entertainment beats as a staff writer for various newspapers, including the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, The Palisadian-Post, The Argonaut and Acorn Newspapers. He has also freelanced for the Santa Barbara Independent, VC Reporter, Malibu Times and Los Feliz Ledger.
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