The city of Miami broke ground on a new film studio today. The Florida Film & Television Center will offer 70,000 square feet of studio space including two sound stages, an onsite editing suite and accessory storage room. The studio will be operated by EUE Screen Gems, a national production company that operates similar sites in New York, Georgia and North Carolina. The massive complex is meant to lure national and international production companies to the city's sunny shores.
Miami's Omni Community Redevelopment Agency gave final approval on the plan in March. The Agency has promised up to $11.5 million for construction of the studio which City of Miami Commissioner, Marc Sarnoff, hopes "will go a long way in securing Miami's status as a top destination for film and television production." The city also hopes the studio will bring more jobs to the area, something the Mayor and City Commissioners reiterated in today's groundbreaking.
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The studio is the centerpiece of a planned revitalization of the newly named "Media and Entertainment District" along 14th Street, west of the Adrienne Arscht Center. In addition to the $11.5 million for construction, Miami is planning on spending another $6 million to improve the neighborhood's infrastructure--fixing roads, widening sidewalks and rerouting water mains.
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This isn't Miami's first attempt to steal some of Los Angeles' thunder, there are currently two large-scale film studios in the city. Greenwich Studios in North Miami is the oldest; formerly the Ivan Tors Studio, the iconic Miami movie Flipper was filmed there in 1962. And The Hollywood Reporter notes that M3Studios has been active in city since 2003. Despite their presence - and the major tax breaks offered by the state of Florida - Miami has never really established itself as a major film site.
The project hasn't come without some vocal detractors. Miami filmmaker Billy Corben told Cultist in March that, "the space is complete unfeasible and unusable. The demand in the market doesn't exist. It's right in the flight path of planes taking off and landing at Miami International Airport." Other local filmmakers also wondered about the likelihood that the promise of jobs would pay off.
It's certainly a bold gamble for the city with a high price tag. The Florida Film and Television Center is scheduled to open at the end of summer 2015.