UPDATE, 5:02 PM: Changes are coming to the historic Culver Studios, but job losses are not going to be part of them. “The 40 employees employed by Culver Studios have been retained and business continues as usual,” said a spokeswoman today for brand new owners Hackman Capital Partners. As Deadline reported yesterday, the privately held investment firm purchased the legendary 14-acre lot in Culver City for over $80 million – with the deal closing late last night. Now that the ink is drying, the new owners can reveal their true intentions. “We intend to keep Culver Studios operating as a studio,” HCP CEO Michael Hackman told me today.
While condos are not part of the plan, new offices and thousands of new parking spaces are as the industrial real estate specialists intend to spend the next year studying the best way to maximize the potential of the studio. “We are also planning to make a significant investment in modernizing the existing stage space, as well as adding additional parking, production offices and media related creative office space,” Hackman added. HCP already has several properties in the Culver City area that it has invested nearly $100 million in over the past few years. While nothing is written in stone and a lot of ideas have been bandied about, the CEO says that there will definitely be a transformation of Culver Studios in the next 2 to 3 years – especially in creating working environments more conducive to the digital needs of modern Hollywood. “Some of the buildings were built in 1918 so we need to bring them into the 21st century,” said Hackman. “We have a lot of work to do but we intend to be long-term owners.”
PREVIOUS, TUESDAY PM: The studio where the Atlanta fire scene in Gone With The Wind, Citizen Kane and X-Men: First Class were made has new owners today after a long sale process. While Culver Studios declined to comment on the upcoming finalization of ownership to Hackman Capital Partners or the future of the production property, sources tell me that the 13 soundstages will be likely shuttered for good over the next 18 months to two years after existing productions wrap. ABC’s Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., CBS’ Extant and other productions now in residence there will see their current agreements and leases honored, I’m hearing. Speculation is that the 14-acre lot at 9336 W. Washington Blvd will be turned into either office space or condos after that. The property is currently owned by Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc who were among a group who purchased the studio from Sony in 2004. Hackman Capitol Partners paid just over $80 million for Culver Studios. The almost new owners and privately-held investment firm specialize in industrial real estate and has several properties nearby.
We’re also hearing there have been layoffs already at Culver Studios involving studio employees.
The studio was built in 1918 by silent movie producer Thomas Ince and through the years was owned by Cecil B DeMille and RKO Pictures (at one point that studio was owned by Howard Hughes), Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s Desilu Productions, and Grant Tinker and Gannett, who renovated the property in 1986. Sony acquired it in 1991 and held on to it for 13 years. The facility currently offers production and executive office space, conference rooms, a commissary and a fitness center. Stay tuned on this one.