Governor Phil Murphy cut the proverbial ribbon today on Cinelease Studios at Caven Point in Jersey City. It is the largest film studio in New Jersey and the first purpose-built facility of its kind in the state.
Flanked by Cinelease General Manager Gannon Murphy, Secretary of State Tahesha Way, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji and Jersey City Municipal Council President Joyce Watterman, the governor was effusive in his praise for the project.
“In the early part of the 1900s New Jersey was the home of America’s nascent movie complex. Movie studios dotted the landscape all along the Hudson. Some of the major studios … have their roots in Jersey soil, among them Fox, MGM and Universal.”
“We always knew we had the most important thing: location, location, location. I would challenge anyone to find a state that puts every possible setting and backdrop, from urban streets to small town greens, from the Jersey shore to green forests, within such a close geographic range.”
Cinelease is in the business of providing lighting, equipment, power distribution, and sound stages to small- and large-scale film productions.
The new studio features 70,000 square feet of stage space along with workshop and flex space. The ceilings are 40 feet high, and there are no columns in the sound stages. Cinelease anticipates booking two to four major television and film productions a year, putting 200 to 400 film crew technicians to work, and supporting ancillary businesses such as catering, lumber, waste removal, equipment rentals, janitorial, security, and others.
With the reinstatement of the film and television tax credit and its subsequent expansion last year, New Jersey is hoping to grow in status as a shooting location. According to the administration, in 2019, film and television productions in the state resulted in more than $420 million in economic activity.
The tax credit, revived by Murphy after it was allowed to lapse under former Governor Chris Christie, has been criticized by both Republicans and good-government groups as lacking sufficient oversight and diverting money from pressing needs like infrastructure.
Nevertheless, with productions on several new movies, television series, and commercials, the governor believes that the state is on track to surpass the 2019 number. Indeed, New Jersey is providing the backdrop for “The Equalizer,” “Ways and Means,” and “FBI: Most Wanted” from CBS, along with Hulu’s “Wutang: An American Saga” and Peacock Network’s “Dr. Death.” And over the last few years, film productions have included “The Joker,” “West Side Story” and “The Plot Against America.”