Universal reveals its redone New York Street back lot


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The price tag would impress Donald Trump.

Universal Studios revealed on Thursday that it had invested $200 million to rebuild its New York Street back lot, along with the King Kong attraction, both of which burned down two years ago.

Universal executives wouldn’t say how much of the cost was covered by insurance, but described the rebuild as the largest set-construction project in Hollywood history.


‘This is a proud day for Universal,’’ Universal Studios President Ron Meyer said during an unveiling ceremony attended by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- who shot several movies on the property in his acting days -- and L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. ‘The opening of New York Street shows the company’s commitment to film and television production in Los Angeles and to supporting filmmakers worldwide.’

The back lot’s closure was a blow to the production community because it was a fixture in Hollywood for decades and was used in scores of TV shows, commercials and movies such as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘The Blues Brothers.’

Redesigned with the help of filmmaker Steven Spielberg and his longtime production designer Rick Carter, the new back lot features taller buildings, narrower streets and more interior spaces to cater to current film-making needs.

The set spans 13 city blocks and includes 15 distinct shooting locations representing such areas as Wall Street, the Broadway theater district and Central Park, as well as a London section and a Paris square. Universal worked with L.A. County Fire officials to include fire safety features in the facades.

Studio executives thanked local firefighters for their efforts to contain damage from the 2008 blaze and showed their gratitude by presenting a $100,000 check to local firefighting departments.

-- Richard Verrier