• Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024
FilmLA Sound Stage Study finds decline in activity, expansion in U.K. and Georgia
Paul Audley
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FilmLA has issued its sixth Sound Stage Study, updating its ongoing survey of Los Angeles area studio developments, and releasing new stage occupancy and use data for calendar year 2022.

FilmLA’s report is made possible by a unique data-sharing partnership with 17 participating studio operators, who by entrusting FilmLA with sensitive business information, help bring the local production picture into clearer focus. Participating studios, which include the six major Hollywood studios and the region’s largest independent operators together control 35 facilities and 83 percent of the estimated 6.5 million square feet of certified sound stage space available in Greater Los Angeles.

Since FilmLA’s last sound stage update in March of 2023, both the U.K. and Georgia have added more than one million square feet of stage inventory to their existing supply. Now comparable to Los Angeles, the U.K. currently has around 6.6 million square feet of stage space, with plans to add dozens of new facilities. Georgia currently has over 4 million square feet of studio space and several significant projects in various planning and expansion phases.

“Just like with trained crew, the availability of purpose-built sound stages is a factor that helps determine the attractiveness of any filming location,” observed FilmLA president Paul Audley. “Our study shows that many jurisdictions are expanding their stage infrastructure and competing harder for the business we also want to win for L.A.”

On a local level, FilmLA is tracking 18 new studio projects totaling roughly 3.5 million square feet of space in various stages of planning and development in Los Angeles. 

According to FilmLA’s research participants, recent studio occupancy and utilization in Los Angeles and elsewhere have decreased, as was expected. As new supporting data reveals, as fears of industry strikes began to permeate the industry in the latter part of 2022, Q4 stage occupancy fell below seasonal norms. Overall, L.A. area stage operators reported an average annual occupancy of 90 percent in 2022, down 3 percent from the prior year. Future FilmLA reports will show the full effect of industry disruption on L.A. area sound stage occupancy.

In terms of utilization, a total of 1,354 projects were filmed in 35 facilities owned by the 17 studio participants in 2022. These 1,354 projects generated a total of 10,356 stage shoot days, with episodic television series accounting for the largest segment of production--approximately 30 percent of all projects and two-thirds of all stage shoot days.

With the number of series episodes ordered per season declining across all segments of television (streaming, broadcast and cable), the number of shoot days that series generated declined by 36.4 percent between 2018 and 2022 from 10,582 to 6,901. In 2022, series shoot days accounted for 66 percent of all production activity, compared to approximately 73 percent in 2018.

Santa Clarita Studios, having joined as a research program participant last year, is the latest studio to have its data included in FilmLA’s sound stage study.

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