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Tuesday, Aug 9, 2022

Historic CBS Studio Purchased for $1.8 Billion

 ViacomCBS has sold its historic CBS Studio Center lot on Radford Avenue in Studio City to a joint venture of real estate firms for $1.8 billion.

According to reports, Hackman Capital Partners in Los Angeles and Square Mile Capital Management LLC in New York will become the new owners of the 40-acre lot and its 18 soundstages, where such shows as “Gunsmoke,” “Gilligan’s Island” and “Seinfeld” were filmed.

The firms will pay roughly $500 million more than what the studio lot, located at 4024 Radford Ave., was expected to sell for when it was listed on the market in August.

Storied history

The property that became CBS Studio Center has a long history of film and television production extending back to May 1928, when silent film producer and director Mack Sennett opened the lot. In 1933, just five years later, Sennett filed for bankruptcy and the property was sold to Mascot Pictures, a studio specializing in producing film serials. 

In 1935, Mascot merged with Monogram Pictures and Consolidated Film Corp. to form Republic Pictures Corp. and the studio lot, renamed Republic Studios, continued to produce B-movies, including Westerns starring Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and John Wayne. 

In the 1950s, Republic leased studio space to Revue Productions, which filmed such early television series as “Leave It to Beaver” before Revue’s owner, MCA, acquired Universal Pictures – today Comcast Corp.-owned NBCUniversal – and shifted Revue’s television production to its Universal City lot. 

In 1963, CBS Television became the lot’s primary lessee and began filming its network television shows there, including “Gunsmoke,” “My Three Sons” and “Gilligan’s Island.” 

While under lease, CBS renamed the property CBS Studio Center and in February 1967, the network outright purchased the studio lot for $9.5 million from Republic, along with its film library. 

Upon completion of the sale, CBS built new soundstages, office buildings and technical facilities. CBS began to rent its studios to independent producers, including MTM Enterprises, the production company owned by actress Mary Tyler Moore and her producer-husband Grant Tinker. MTM became the Studio Center’s primary tenant in 1970, filming the award-winning television series “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and, eventually, spinoffs of the hit show including “Rhoda,” “Phyllis” and “Lou Grant.” 

Over the years, sets were built on the studio lot, including a lagoon in the 1960s for “Gilligan’s Island.” In the 1990s, a New York street was created on the property to accommodate exterior scenes for “Seinfeld.”

Growing studio portfolio

The CBS Studio Center acquisition will mark a continuing foray into the studio sector for real estate investment firms Hackman Capital and Square Mile. It follows the joint venture’s purchase last month of Kaufman Astoria Studios, a Queens, New York facility that dates back to 1920, for an estimated $600 million. 

In January, the companies acquired the 182,000-square-foot Sony Pictures Animation Campus in Culver City where animated features such as “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” were made.

The partners entered the New York production market in September of last year with the acquisition of Silvercup Studios in Long Island City and the Bronx. 

In 2018, then-CBS Corp. sold off its 25-acre Television City facility in West Hollywood’s Fairfax District to Hackman Capital for $750 million, or less than half as much as the Studio City complex. Hackman Capital also acquired the rights to use the Television City trademark. Shows currently produced on the Television City property in Los Angeles include “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” “The Young and the Restless,” “The Bold and the Beautiful” and The Price Is Right.”

The firms also purchased the MBS Media Campus, home to James Cameron’s Lightstorm Studios in Manhattan Beach.

The sale of CBS Studio Center comes at a time when studio space is at a premium as film and television production ramps up to feed streaming platforms such as Netflix Inc., Amazon.com Inc., Walt Disney Co.’s Disney Plus and Warner Bros.’ HBO Max.


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