Lights, camera, action… Auckland’s slice of big screen Hollywood goes on the market for sale
A well known New Zealand film-making company with links to big name Hollywood studios such as Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, and Disney, has been placed on the market for sale.
Studio West in the Auckland suburb of Glen Eden is a massive semi-industrial warehouse-style complex which has played a key role in a host of smash-hit films and long running TV series.
The studio occupies some 3.15 hectares of land over two adjoining titles, and features a raft of large warehouse style buildings which have been converted into sound stages, offices and workshops.
International film studios which have subcontracted space and movie-making facilities at Studio West since the late 1990s include all of Hollywood’s big names – such as Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Colombia Tri-Star, and Village Roadshow and Disney.
Movies shot on site include Yogi Bear 3D and a catalogue of Disney TV films, along with and New Zealand movies and TV series such as Hercules, Xena, Street Legal, and The Weakest Link.
Action series Power Rangers has tenanted Studio West for a majority of the time since 2003, and currently occupies some 95 percent of the facility – with the remainder of the buildings occupied by numerous individuals and smaller companies.
The Power Rangers serial has been screening on television in Japan for 38 years, and in America for 20 years. Disney moved production of the series to Studio West in 2003. The show airs 17 times a week in the United State and is now broadcast in 140 countries around the world. Power Rangers Productions Ltd currently has a year-to-year lease on the Waikaukau Road premises, generating annual revenue of $816,850 + GST.
The Studio West land, buildings and business are being marketed for sale as one package by Bayleys Auckland. Bayleys sales person Paul Dixon said New Zealand now had a global reputation for being a high quality, technology-driven film-making location – with Studio West firmly entrenched in that market.
The Studio West movie-making complex comprises a number of large buildings utilised as administrative and staff amenity offices, filming stages, an art department/wardrobe, props and carpentry workshops, and an employee canteen. Studio West has a total off 5395 square metres of indoor floor space – including 1513 square metres of studios.
“New Zealand’s Film and Television was a $3.2 billion dollar industry last year. Key stakeholders such as Studio West have benefitted both directly and indirectly. Some 70 percent of New Zealand film production is shot in the Auckland region” Mr Dixon said.
The studios and workshop building specifications incorporate:
• Three individual studios of 288 square metres, 525 square metres and 700 square metres.
• Some 465 square metres of production offices
• A 175 square metre make-up and hairdressing suite with adjoining manager’s office and apartment
• Four individual workshops of 100 square metres, 470 square metres, 515 square metres and 810 square metres.
The two adjoining properties which make up the Studio West film complex have a combined July 2012 council valuation of $4.625million.
“With a firm foothold and reputation now in the Hollywood cinema graphic market, the opportunity exists for Studio West to develop its service network into the equally substantial film making markets of China, and of course India’s Bollywood movie-making empire,” Mr Dixon said.
“The China Film Co-production Corporation for example has just this year been seeking business proposals from New Zealand film makers to pitch their projects – with the final round of presentations taking place at the Beijing International Film Festival in April.
“The New Zealand government, through its production incentive tax packages formulated with Warner Bros to support filming of The Hobbit, has taken a strong role in underpinning film production as a revenue source for the New Zealand economy. As a highly-technical and knowledge-based skill set, film making is one sector which can drive New Zealand to becoming a high wage economy.”
Mr Dixon said that in addition to Government support for the Kiwi film-making industry, Auckland Council was also throwing financial resources behind commercial enterprises such as Studio West.
Networking between Chinese film makers and the movie making industry in Auckland has been coordinated by Film Auckland – part of the Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development body. Film Auckland manager Michael Brook said: "There is a lot of interest in co-producing films, which is exciting for both countries.”
Studio West is one of the four big players in New Zealand’s movie and TV film- making industry. The other three companies are South Pacific Pictures – which produces the long-running Shortland Street series – Auckland Film Studios, and Peter Jackson’s Stone Street Studios in Wellington.
The studios are fully lined with sound-proofing insulation, and feature three-phase power supply, lighting grids, and air ventilation/extraction ducting and equipment. The studios can be reconfigured to support audience viewing/participation formats.
Meanwhile the variously sized workshops are designed to contain wood working equipment as well as large scale painting facilities - all under high-stud beams which enable scaffolding structures to be built around specific set projects.
Studio West is jointly-owned by three business partners with long careers in the film industry – production designer Ralph Davies, film set construction manager Murray Sweetman, and film production accountant/financial controller David Rowell.
“Within the land envelope at the Glen Eden complex are two currently bare spaces which have been identified for the future construction of even larger studios or which could potentially be developed as sections for residential dwellings,” Mr Dixon said.
“Expansion of the business along these lines would support the future growth of services available at Studio West, and would facilitate multiple simultaneous use of the amenities so that several productions could be worked on at the same time.”