The legendary Fox Studio Lot for a $1.5 billion expansion

The historic Fox Studio Lot, one of Hollywood’s most famous movie factories, is set to benefit from a $1.5 billion upgrade that would alter the Century City skyline and add new production to meet industry demand.

The vast Fox empire, now controlled by the Murdoch family, was born in the legendary studio where Shirley Temple once danced and Marilyn Monroe showed off her comedic chops in “The Seven Year Itch.” Landmark cultural films that come to life there include “Miracle on 34th Street” and “The Sound of Music.”

Fox Corp., which retained ownership of the land when Walt Disney Co. purchased most of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets in 2019, submitted an amended plan to Los Angeles building officials on Wednesday calling for the addition of office towers, sound stages and other facilities used to make TV shows and movies.

The investment reflects the nearly uninterrupted demand for scenes that has emerged in the age of streaming television and Fox’s desire to get more out of one of its most valuable assets. Fox’s plans include a 30-plus-story skyscraper on the Avenue of Stars that could be leased to tenants looking for fancy digs in Century City’s booming office market.

“Our vision is to secure the future of the lot by investing in the production infrastructure and core business of Century City,” said Gary Ehrlich, general manager of Fox Studio Lot.

The words "Fox Studios" appears on an arch above a road.

The entrance to the Fox Studio Lot on Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles.

(Fox Corp.)

A mural of a woman and a man on a tall building appears above a bungalow.

A view of the exterior wall of Stage 10 of Fox Studio covered in a mural depicting a scene from the 1955 comedy ‘The Seven Year Itch’.

(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

The money-making potential of the busy 53-acre studio on Pico Boulevard was clear when the Murdochs pulled it out of the $71.3 billion deal with Disney that put Captain America and Wolverine on the same team there. four years ago and led to the creation of Fox Corp.

Lachlan Murdoch, the eldest son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, runs Fox Corp. as general manager and retains an office on the Fox lot once occupied by illustrious studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck. Rupert Murdoch is president of the company.

“The Fox Studio Lot is one of the most iconic and treasured production locations in entertainment history and is a rich part of our history,” Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement. The proposed expansion project, he said, “represents a long-term commitment to our industry, our community and the City of Los Angeles.”

Fox Corp. is comprised of former 21st Century Fox assets that were not included in the Disney deal, including studio ownership, Fox News, Fox Sports, Fox Entertainment and Fox Television Stations.

Disney is the lot’s main tenant, occupying office and production space. Among the shows it produces are two of Fox’s most popular series: “9-1-1” and “9-1-1: Lone Star.” Sports programs such as “Fox NFL Sunday”, “MLB on Fox” and “The Herd With Colin Cowherd” are based there.

The lot also remains the home of the writers room for “The Simpsons,” which has aired on Fox for over 30 years.

A rendering of skyscrapers.

A conceptual rendering of a proposed office tower on the Avenue of Stars that would rise over 30 stories.

(Fox Corp.)

Although new office skyscrapers have been rare in Los Angeles in recent decades, rental activity suggests there may be demand for another large building in Century City that would rise next to a gated hotel south of the 2121 Avenue of the Stars office tower. This red granite and glass building was once called Fox Plaza, but is perhaps best known to moviegoers as Nakatomi Plaza, where Bruce Willis fought off terrorists in “Die Hard.”

At a time when most office centers, including downtown Los Angeles, are experiencing a slowdown in leasing caused in part by companies’ shift to remote working and fears of a slowing economy , the Century City neighborhood stands out as a robust market with some of the highest rents. In the region.

“It’s probably the strongest office market in Southern California,” said real estate broker Carl Muhlstein of JLL, which specializes in entertainment real estate transactions.

A rendering of buildings between houses and a golf course.

Proposed improvements to Fox Studio Lot include office towers on Avenue of Stars and Olympic Boulevard.

(Fox Corp.)

Only 8.5% of offices in Century City are unleased — compared with 19.4% countywide — according to brokerage CBRE, and landlords there ask for rents 50% above the county average. There are few locations left in the neighborhood to build big office buildings. Last year one of Hollywood’s leading talent agencies, Creative Artists Agency, agreed to become the anchor tenant in a 37-story tower being built on Avenue of the Stars, where construction activity is still mostly underground. Other businesses have agreed to move in when it opens in 2026. “The CAA tower hasn’t even risen above sea level,” Muhlstein said, “and it’s already 50% leased.” Upgrades on the Fox lot would add nine soundstages, bringing the number of stages to 24. The additional stages would be equipped with the latest technologies for modern film, television and content creation, Fox said. Also planned is an office building more than 20 stories tall that would be designed specifically for people working for companies based on the lot. It would rise along Olympic Boulevard west of Avenue of the Stars. 

The Fox lot is now home to a mish-mash of old and new buildings constructed for administration and production departments, including four scoring and mixing stages, two broadcast studios, theatres, sound bays assembly and other production facilities. It has 96 buildings with a combined total of 1.8 million square feet. The planned development would add 1.6 million square feet.

Fox’s announced expansion follows another huge makeover proposal revealed last month by the owners of the Radford Studio Center in Studio City. Hackman Capital Partners said it plans to spend $1 billion to upgrade the former CBS Studio Center with up to 1 million square feet of new soundstages, production facilities and offices.

People outside a tall building with the words "fox nfl" On a wall.

The “Fox NFL Sunday” sports program is based on the lot.

(Fox Corp.)

The rise of streaming has increased the demand for sound stages and other production facilities and prompted the development of new studios in the Los Angeles area.

Existing sound stages in Los Angeles County have been almost fully leased for years, which can make it difficult for new productions to find work locations, according to FilmLA, the nonprofit that handles filming permits. In the region.

“There’s just this unmitigated demand for not only stages but all the production support that goes with mounting productions at a particular location,” Ehrlich said. 

Studios are operating at nearly 100% capacity with waiting lists as long as five film productions for these spaces, financial adviser Deloitte said in a 2021 report.

A rendering of a rectangular building with a loading dock.

A conceptual rendering of the planned production facilities for Fox Studio Lot in Century City.

(Fox Corp.)

“To meet booming demand, supply is expected to more than double in Los Angeles County” over the next few years, Deloitte said. Plans for more studio space fall far short of that.

Fox Studios traces its lineage to co-founder William Fox’s 1924 purchase of 99 acres between Santa Monica and Pico Boulevards from Janss Investment Co., the developers of Westwood Village. Fox Films merged with 20th Century Pictures in 1935, forming 20th Century Fox.

The land grew to the size of 285 acres at its peak, but eventually shrank to its current size as the studio was hit by a series of flops, including the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor “Cleopatra” vehicle, whose the budget had exploded before its release in 1963. . Desperate for money, studio bosses sold nearly 180 acres in 1961 to businessman William Zeckendorf and Aluminum Co. of America for the development of Century City.

The city’s approval process for the latest proposed changes to the studio could be lengthy, Ehrlich said, but Fox hopes to launch new developments in the next few years.

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