General Business

Lights, Camera, Action!

Jobs and innovation are centerstage in the new Netflix-New Jersey partnership that will transform 292 acres at the former Fort Monmouth military base into a $900 million state-of-the-art East Coast TV and movie production hub.

The Netflix plan selected by the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) over three other bidders’ proposals includes 12 sound stages totaling 500,000 square feet. The project will create 1,500 permanent production jobs, over 3,500 construction-related jobs and generate billions of dollars in economic activity in the years ahead.

All this means New Jersey, the very state where the motion picture industry was born 130 years ago, is now poised to become “Hollywood East.”

Many are surprised to learn New Jersey was once, albeit briefly, the movie-making capital of the world. After inventing the movie camera, Thomas Edison built an open-roof movie studio in 1893 in West Orange that rotated to capture the best sunlight for filming. For a time, Edison’s Kinetographic Theater was the world’s only indoor movie production facility, and it made hundreds of silent black-and-white films before it closed in 1901.

NJBIA is thrilled that the same can-do spirit of creativity and innovation that launched the movie industry at Edison’s labs will be alive again at Fort Monmouth when Netflix brings the latest movie-making technology to that property near Route 35 in Eatontown and Oceanport.

Netflix will buy the parcel for $55 million and make $848 million in investments: 12 sound stages ranging in size from 15,000 to 40,000 square feet, as well as ancillary production spaces and back lots. These high-tech studios will be producing TV series and movies, and Netflix crews will occasionally film on location in other areas of New Jersey.

Having a Netflix East Coast production hub in Monmouth County will have the ripple effect of spurring private sector investment in adjacent industries that support movie production – from technology and digital services companies to hospitality businesses.

When Fort Monmouth officially closed its doors as a US Army installation in 2011, it caused the loss of thousands of jobs and devastated the local economy. FMERA was tasked with guiding future redevelopment of the site in a manner that balanced job creation and new business with preserving the fort’s natural resources and rich history.

Having previously served with FMERA, it is heartening to reimagine the fort’s abandoned buildings and property as a hub of creativity and technology. The selection of Netflix as the winning bidder moves this important project forward and ensures Fort Monmouth’s legacy as a major economic driver lives on when the directors shout “Lights, Camera, Action.”

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