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Santa Clarita Movie Ranch Sale Action Heats Up

After two years on the market, the Blue Cloud Movie Ranch in the Santa Clarita Valley may have found a new buyer. The 94-acre property where such films as “American Sniper,” “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Iron Man” went up for sale in early 2013. The asking price was originally $15 million, later reduced to $7.5 million. Anthony Matthess, a broker in Santa Clarita handling the property, said that a deal was close but couldn’t discuss it in detail. “There is a confidentiality agreement with the interested (parties) so it is something that we cannot talk about,” Matthess said. Interest in the property picked up after the passage last year of AB 1839, a bill that extended the state’s film and television tax credit program, he added. Under the new law, the tax credit program will increase to $330 million a year for the next five years from the current $100 million a year. The new law also changes how money is doled out: Instead of a lottery system, productions will be ranked on how many jobs they create. Blue Cloud Movie Ranch is owned by Rene Veluzat, whose family has made a business of Santa Clarita Valley movie ranches. Other members own Melody Ranch Motion Picture Studio in Newhall and the Veluzat Motion Picture Ranch in Saugus. The ranch offers about 10 sets, including an airplane hangar, helicopter crash site, a cave, 1950s diner and more. In addition to feature films, the ranch has been used for television series, including HBO’s “True Blood” and NBC’s military legal drama “JAG.” Jason Crawford, marketing and economic development manager for Santa Clarita, called movie ranches an integral part of the movie business in the city. They have standing sets for filming and the space to build sets specifically for a project. “That’s how you get something like ‘American Sniper’ filmed there in a re-created Middle East,” Crawford said. Sun Valley Studio The Los Angeles Planning Department held a public hearing last week about granting a conditional use permit and variances for a proposed film studio in Sun Valley. The Feb. 17 hearing on the 10-acre project considered granting Line 204, a Hollywood film production and rental company, variances on building and fence height, as well as signage and setbacks. Line 204, which already operates three soundstages in Hollywood, has plans for 110,000 square feet of studio space and a 108,000-square-foot warehouse at 11038, 11070 and 11100 W. Peoria St. Other improvements include 320 parking spaces and 47 bike spaces. The company is seeking a conditional use permit to allow the 54-foot high warehouse to exceed a height limit of 30 feet, for signage on the buildings and for construction of an 11-foot wal around the property that would exceed the allowable limit. Chief Executive Alton Butler started the company in 1997 in his Studio City garage before moving to Burbank in 2000. It acquired its Hollywood warehouse in 2002 and studio space the following year. The Sun Valley soundstage project is among the largest undertaken in Los Angeles County in about 20 years, Butler said, adding it’s important to make studio space available so productions stay in California. Butler, a native of Alabama, said that he has been contacted by film commissions from Louisiana and Georgia to open up studio space to accommodate the filming taking place there lured by tax breaks. Los Angeles, however, has become his home and he wouldn’t consider leaving. “I feel I would be a traitor to go back to the South and invest money in studios there when Los Angeles needs it,” he added. City staff will compile testimony from the hearing and write up an analysis report for the city Planning Commission, which will take up the matter on April 23. Horror on Demand Low budget film production company The Asylum has signed an agreement with Cinedigm Corp. to distribute 12 films over the next three years. Cinedigm, in Los Angeles, will acquire the rights for the films made by the Burbank studio and make them available in theaters and through online streaming, video-on-demand and DVDs. The Asylum and Cinedigm have worked together in the past most notably on releasing the two campy “Sharknado” films. Studio co-founder David Latt said the company looks forward to repeating that success. ”Cinedigm is the perfect partner because they truly understand the appeal of our brand of entertainment and how to reach this audience,” Latt said in a prepared statement. Four titles included in the package are upcoming horror film “Little Dead Rotting Hood”; action fantasy film “Fortune Cookie”; historical “Troy: The Odyssey”; and the western “Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch.” One outlet for The Asylum films will be through Cinedigm’s growing digital networks that include CONtv, a channel targeting the audience for Comic Con. Cinedigm Entertainment Group President Bill Sondheim said he expects the partnership to be a great one. “They have their fingers on the pulse of consumers, delivering fun and marketable evergreen films that work well on all platforms,” he said in a prepared statement. Staff Reporter Mark R. Madler can be reached at (818) 316-3126 or mmadler@sfvbj.com.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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