New Jersey has given Lionsgate a “Studio Partner” designation as the state expands its tax credit program to attract more high-profile film and TV projects to shoot locally.
The Hollywood studio, long intent on controlling production costs, will now view additional above-the-line wage and salary costs as qualifying expenses offset by New Jersey’s movie tax credit program.
Lionsgate has increased its production footprint in the Tri-State area as its Lions Gate Films division becomes the primary tenant in a $125 million studio complex in Newark, New Jersey, Lionsgate Newark Studios, which will be owned and operated by Robert Halmi’s Great Point Studios.
In 2019, the company revealed it will also anchor a $100 million studio complex in Yonkers, 20 minutes from Manhattan, built by Great Point Capital Management, a media-focused investment fund led by Halmi, president and CEO of Hallmark Entertainment, and Fehmi Zeko .
New Jersey’s long-running movie tax credit program, which offers a 30 to 35 percent discount on qualifying expenses for movie and TV projects shot in the state, was extended through 2034 last January. Lionsgate is eligible for new tax credit bonuses after agreeing to occupy 25,000 square feet of the Newark Studios complex, which has just begun construction and is expected to be completed with 350,000 square feet of available production space by September 2024.
Lionsgate will be able to match eligible wages and other payments to high-priced creatives such as directors, producers, writers and artists. Lionsgate Newark Studios will be New Jersey’s first purpose-built studio built for TV and film production, with five soundstages ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 square feet and additional space for on-site production services.
The Lionsgate movie and TV franchises include Mad Men, Orange Is the New Black, The Hunger Games, John Wick, Saw, Dirty Dancing, The Expendables, La La Land and the Dusk story.