The New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Dec. 21 awarded its first-ever Studio Partner designation to Lionsgate.
The announcement came amid a flurry of activity from the NJEDA stemming from its December board meeting. It was also overshadowed, in some sense, by the bombshell Wednesday evening announcement about Netflix getting the greenlight to build a massive production facility at Fort Monmouth.
But the Studio Partner designation is another significant step in the state’s efforts to build out its television and film industry infrastructure and ecosystem.
In May, Lionsgate entered a lease agreement with Great Point Studios to become an anchor tenant at its new production facility, which is being constructed in Newark’s South Ward. The $194 million project, located at the former Seth Boyden Housing site, is expected to be completed by 2024. When complete, the facility will include five production stages and a full set of production services on site.
In October, NJEDA opened the application process for facilities that wished to receive this designation and access to a tax credit pool, funded through the Garden State Film and Digital Media Jobs Act.
The designation, one of only three under the incentive program, will allow Lionsgate to capture above-the-line wage and salary costs as qualified expenses. Those wages and salaries are typically made to highly paid individuals on a project, such as directors, producers, writers and performers.
According to the NJEDA, the studio partner can apply for tax credits for above-the-line wages and salary expenses up to $15 million, $25 million, $40 million, or $60 million depending on the amount of qualified production expenses involved in the project. Additionally, $100 million of the allocation for film and digital media tax credits is set aside for studio partners.
“This is great news for New Jersey’s flourishing film and television industry,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Lionsgate will be a welcome addition to the film landscape, and we look forward to seeing the ‘Filmed in New Jersey’ logo on Lionsgate films for years to come.”
“This is a wonderful development for the many entertainment industry workers and performers in New Jersey for the state itself,” said Robert Halmi, Great Point Studios co-founder. “It could not have come about without the help of Gov. Phil Murphy, who recognized the importance of this vast project to Newark, the state and the region.”
Murphy described the awarding of this designation to Lionsgate as a major step in the Garden State’s evolution as a film and television destination.
“Bringing studios like Lionsgate to New Jersey will allow us to attract more and larger productions to our state and will create good, high-paying jobs for our residents,” the governor said.