Will there be more westerns in Netflix’s future?
The digital streaming entertainment company is putting down roots in New Mexico by setting up a production hub and acquiring a studio space in a move that will allow it to take advantage of the state’s desert terrain and, more important, financial incentives.
Netflix announced Monday that it will acquire ABQ Studios, in an area known as Mesa del Sol near Albuquerque. The purchase will be Netflix’s first acquisition of a production studio complex, a significant step for the company that has usually leased production facilities, such as Sunset Bronson Studios in Los Angeles.
After the deal closes, Netflix said, the company plans to bring $1 billion in production to New Mexico over the next 10 years and create as many as 1,000 production jobs a year. The company also said it will receive local funding for the project, including as much as $10 million from New Mexico and up to $4.5 million from Albuquerque.
New Mexico already offers filming incentives, including a production tax credit of 25% to 30% of expenditures, and there is no minimum budget or spending requirement to participate. As a result, the state has become a popular filming destination and has hosted numerous productions, including the AMC series “Breaking Bad” and the movies “Sicario” and “Independence Day: Resurgence.”
Among the Netflix titles currently shooting in the state are the supernatural drama “Chambers” and the New Testament-inspired update “Messiah.” The Los Gatos, Calif., company is also planning to shoot the apocalypse-themed comedy-drama “Daybreak” in New Mexico.
Netflix declined to comment on the valuation of the ABQ Studios acquisition. The production facility consists of eight soundstages, production offices, mill space and a back lot.
Netflix is no stranger to New Mexico — the western miniseries “Godless,” which recently won three Emmy Awards, and the series “Longmire” have both filmed in the state. The Adam Sandler movie “The Ridiculous 6” was also shot in New Mexico.
“Our experience producing shows and films in New Mexico inspired us to jump at the chance to establish a new production hub here,” Ty Warren, vice president, physical production for Netflix, said in Monday’s announcement.
Netflix isn’t planning to move any of its existing L.A. productions to New Mexico.
However, “Messiah” was originally planned to shoot in California and even qualified for the state’s tax incentive program. But the limited series — a religious drama about a modern-day Jesus from producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey — ultimately withdrew from the California program.
Netflix’s studio operations are based out of Sunset Bronson in L.A. The company recently expanded its L.A. footprint by leasing an entire office tower under construction on Sunset Boulevard, across the street from its current headquarters.
Netflix films several shows in the Los Angeles region, including “Santa Clarita Diet,” “Fuller House,” “GLOW,” “Dear White People” and “13 Reasons Why.”
The company establishes production hubs around the world wherever there is a concentration of filming activity. Netflix recently opened its first European hub in Madrid, where it has established a central production facility for its growing slate of Spanish-language original content.