Arthur Kill Correctional Facility will officially be Staten Island’s first major film studio, thanks to a deal inked by the state last week. Experts expect the studios will cement Staten Island’s role as a major production hub for film and television, as well as boost local businesses.
Gina Argento, the president and CEO of Broadway Stages, which will build the studio at Arthur Kill, said producers have begun to realize the borough’s untapped potential.
So far this year, the city has issued 153 permits for film shoots in Staten Island, according to the Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment (MOME). Some of the shows and movies that have filmed in the borough this year include “The Americans,” “Ocean’s Eight” and Marvel’s “The Defenders.”
“It’s easy to film a single movie or single show in just one borough because there are different neighborhoods that offer different locations. It’s a big draw,” Argento said.
Once the 65-acre site completes its $20 million renovation, Argento predicted that this trend will grow exponentially.
The deal between Broadway Stages, which operates a studio space in Greenpoint, and the state’s Empire State Development Corporation, which has been looking to redevelop the prison for years, will create five new soundstages totaling 100,000 square feet. Argento said the design will keep some of the facility’s look for shows that are set in prisons, but there will be adaptive reuse of many of the location’s interiors.
The prison’s gym, for example, can be turned into a soundstage and its offices could be backdrops for scenes set in government offices.
“We want to change the location to be the most state of the art,” she said.
The renovation also gives the studio the option of building an additional five soundstages totaling an additional approximately 70,000 square feet. Roughly 1,300 new jobs will be created following the redevelopment, according to Argento.
Julie Menin, the commissioner of MOME, said the new studio space has been a long time coming, as elected officials and community leaders have been asking for a bigger piece of the city’s filmmaking pot. Nearly half of filming permits are still issued in Manhattan, she said.
“We have a situation where a lot of communities that didn’t see filming wanted filming. We wanted to change that equation,” she said.
Menin predicts that the Arthur Kill studio will attract more and more productions because directors will be able to film exteriors and soundstage interiors in very close proximity to each other. She added that the studios will likely boost local businesses.
In addition to film-crew patronage, mom-and-pops should get added business from film fans checking out their favorite shooting locations.
“So the more Staten island is featured in various TV and movie production … the more tourism dollars bring to the community,” she said.