New Jersey’s largest film studio formally opened its doors last week, as the state gears up to welcome a burgeoning film industry.
Cinelease Studios, Caven Point in Jersey City boasts 70,000 square feet of stage space and expects to host between two and four “major film and television productions a year,” according to Gov. Phil Murphy’s office.
Those productions could employ hundreds of film technicians and ancillary jobs like “catering, lumber, waste removal, equipment rentals, janitorial, security,” Murphy’s office added.
In an Aug. 5 statement, the governor said that venues like Cinelease were the types of establishments in mind when he approved the state’s massive film and television tax credit program in 2018.
“New Jersey is where filmmaking began, and we are quickly regaining the reputation as a premier location for both film and television production,” he said in a statement.
Developer The Criterion Group bought the 6-acre property in 2019 for a $16.75 million price tag.
“New Jersey has long been a meaningful and oftentimes striking backdrop for filmmaking from independents to the modern streamers and blockbusters,” reads a statement from Gannon Murphy, Cinelease’s general manager.
“As Cinelease Studios, Caven Point opens its doors to film and television, our studio clients, filmmakers, and content creators no longer see New Jersey as background,” he continued. “We are now the leading character.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut production down, big names such as the Academy Award-winning 2019 film “Joker” were filmed in Newark and Jersey City, while HBO’s “The Many Saints of Newark” – a prequel of sorts to the hit series “The Sopranos” – was filmed in its namesake city.
Netflix shot several scenes of “Army of the Dead” in Atlantic City, while scenes of the NBC spy thriller “The Enemy Within’’ were filmed at Bergen Community College in Paramus, and Steven Spielberg’s remake of “West Side Story” was filmed in Paterson.
As Cinelease Studios, Caven Point opens its doors to film and television, our studio clients, filmmakers, and content creators no longer see New Jersey as background. We are now the leading character.
– Gannon Murphy, Cinelease general manager
Many of those projects have claimed millions of dollars in state subsidies, according to figures from the state.
Now that is coming back to the state, thanks to the lucrative incentive program, and demand for TV and film content, said many industry insiders.
“The volume of calls we’re getting is remarkable,” said Steven Gorelick, head of the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission. “I had no doubt we were going to fully recover from the pandemic.”
Last month, the state approved its largest tax break ever: $32.8 million for NBC’s production of the drama series “The Equalizer.”
Murphy brought the film and TV incentive program back online in 2018, after his predecessor, Republican Gov. Chris Christie, allowed a much smaller precursor to lapse early on in his term.
The program has varying levels of requirements for how much film, TV and digital media projects can get reimbursed for by the state. Generally, the tax credits are for expenses directed to New Jersey companies.
Since being brought online, the state awarded over $116 million to 36 separate projects, according to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which runs the program.