FilmLA releases annual sound stage report

(This is the 3rd annual soundstage report)

FilmLA has updated its ongoing report in order to provide a more comprehensive picture of “behind the scenes” production activity on certified sound stages in Los Angeles County. This is FilmLA’s third report on sound stage production activity, focusing on the calendar year 2019.

Greater Los Angeles Sound Stage Infrastructure includes 54 Studio Production Facilities, 394 Certified Sound Stages which total 5,300,000 Square Feet of Certified Production Space. The area remains home to the world’s largest concentration of purpose-built sound stages and certified production space.

Other major production centers, most in North America but at least one an ocean away, are growing quickly and now have sizeable production infrastructure holdings of their own.

(Source FilmLA)

To the Los Angeles region’s industry-leading infrastructure holdings, three new development projects recently added leasable space to the mix. Quixote North Valley Studios, opened in Pacoima in 2019, has five stages totaling approximately 75K square feet.

LA North Studios’ second and third Santa Clarita-based facilities added another stage of approximately 8K square feet in size at the second facility in 2020, and two at 44,250 and 55,750 at their third facility, which just opened in March. 

The sound stage utilization data in this report covers 18 studio facilities, including all of the 7 major Hollywood studios, plus 11 large, independent production studios – Culver Studios, Los Angeles Center Studios, MBS Media Campus, Occidental Studios, Quixote Studios (3 facilities), Raleigh Studios and Sunset Studios (3 studio facilities).

The report captures approximately 33 percent of the certified facilities in the Greater Los Angeles market by facility count, but fully 67 percent (3.6 million square feet) of the region’s available certified stage space, and 64 percent (251 count) of the region’s certified stages.

FilmLA has counted an additional dedicated 30 studio facilities and 66 stages that are not certified.

In all, FilmLA partners reported a total of 1,700 projects on sound stages and backlots in 2019. This was a five percent increase over 2018, when a total of 1,620 projects reported.

Comparing year to year, the mix of projects using partner stages was similar. One-hour and half-hour television series, taken together, comprised 27 percent of total projects in 2019, just as in 2018. However, the total number of series increased from 443 in 2018 (215 one-hour/228 half-hour) to 463 (238 one-hour/225 half-hour).

(Source: FilmLA)

The biggest change came from one-hour series count, which increased by 10.7 percent in 2019.

Comparing stage shoot days on between 2018 and 2019, activity declined by -15.0 percent. Despite the increase in the number of television series, one-hour series declined by -31.2 percent, and half-hour by -18.2 percent.

Though tenant information is confidential, a partial reason is the production of series with fewer episodes, which translates into fewer Shoot Days. Streaming companies, for instance, produce series with typically 8 to 10 episodes, versus 20 or more for some broadcast networks.

“We have had one network show and five streamers in the last one and a half years. Opening new stages on time and getting the word out that we had state-of-the-art sound stages available is the greatest challenge we faced in 2019.”

Cheryl Huggins, Sr. Vice President, Studios & Location Rentals, Quixote Studios

Backlot-based Shoot Days increased by 10 percent between 2018 and 2019 from 1,986 to 2,184. Shoot Days for feature films increased by 12.5, and one-hour series by 5.5 percent. The largest gains occurred in smaller types of productions such as music videos (100 percent), talk shows (38.3 percent) and the other category (31.3 percent).

The use of local sound stages and backlots for production generated fewer Shoot Days in 2019 than in 2018 (14,492 versus 16,477). Nonetheless, studio operators labeled it a successful year.

In 2019, FilmLA recorded a total of 36,540 on-location Shoot Days. Combined with 14,492 Partner Shoot Days on both stages and backlots, total Shoot Days would be closer to 51,032. This means that known Shoot Days at the 18 facilities comprised 28 percent of the total, and on-location days 72 percent.

Among studio partners, average reported occupancy was 93 percent for the year in 2019 (median 98 percent). A sound stage is considered 100 percent occupied if it is leased to a paying tenant (or often, multiple consecutive tenants) for 365 days per calendar year, regardless of how much filming the tenants conduct during that same period. Using this methodology, a reported occupancy above 100 percent is possible whenever leased stages are double-occupied or shared.

Occupancy was otherwise robust, with quarterly occupancy levels ranging anywhere from 46 to 100 percent, depending on the studio. Five studios reported 100 percent occupancy in all four quarters.

For a copy of the full report, click here.