By Bill Parry
Kaufman Astoria Studios, one of the largest film and television centers on the East Coact, is about to become even larger when it builds two new sound stages on its campus, bringing the total number of stages at the complex to 12, including the only outdoor backlot in New York City.
The stages, located at the corner of 34th Avenue and 36th Street, are Stage O, which will be more than 15,000 square feet, and Stage N, which will be more than 8,500 square feet.
The two stages will be housed in a single building so that they can accommodate one large production or two separate productions. The building will be four stories high with office space on the upper floors and an underground parking lot.
“There is no better place to make a movie or TV show than New York City,” Kaufman Astoria Studios President and CEO Hal Rosenbluth said. “With the tremendous growth of the entertainment industry here, our stages are constantly occupied, and we’re thrilled that with the new stages we will be able to expand the number of productions that call New York home.
The state’s $420 million annual tax credit has created one of the greatest entertainment production booms, smashing records in each of the last four years. When Mayor Bill de Blasio came to the Museum of the Moving Image last week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting along with superstars Robert De Niro, Alicia Keys and John Leguizamo, his newly appointed commissioner, Julie Menin, spoke of the industry’s impact on the city.
“Fifty years after the formation of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, the prospects for New York City’s film and TV industry have never looked brighter,” Menin said. “The industry generates nearly $9 billion annually for the city’s economy—up 21 percent from just four years ago—and employs over 130,000 hardworking New Yorkers with good-paying jobs.”
Built in 1920, Kaufman Astoria Studios was the original home of Paramount Pictures, and more than 100 silent films were made on its sound stages. Today, top Hollywood film, television and digital on-demand series are made at the studio, including the Netflix hit “Orange is the New Black” and the NBC pilot “State of Affairs.”
“Sesame Street” has filmed at the studio since 1992. Recent feature film productions include “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “Men in Black 3.”
Kaufman Astoria Studios expects to break ground on the new stages this fall, with an anticipated construction schedule of 18 to 24 months.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr