New movie studios are coming to NY, NJ. Why not Connecticut?

Connecticut does not make an appearance on an updated August roster of major new U.S. studios under construction or otherwise in the offing, published by The Studio Map which tracks industry developments. New Jersey has three big studios in the works: the massive Netflix production campus planned for Fort Monmouth, a Lionsgate studio in Newark, and the 1888 Studios lot proposed for a 75-acre waterfront tract in Bayonne.

For now, most film and TV work is on pause in the tri-state region, as actors and writers hold out for better pay and residual compensation as productions get longer shelf lives in the streaming era.

“The strike is of course having an impact here as well,” stated George Norfleet, director of the Connecticut Office of Film, TV & Digital Media, in an email response to a CT Insider query. “The unions that are on strike are organized as a tri-state local.”

That aside, Norfleet offered no insights as to why Connecticut has been shut out of a succession of major studio expansions and startups. In addition to the New Jersey and New York projects, four big developments are under way in Georgia, including one being built in phases with NBCUniversal already settling in to produce some of its programming.

Industry analysts routinely lump Georgia in with Connecticut among the handful of states nationally offering the most-generous incentives in the country, with state lawmakers having yet to implement a cap on tax incentives that totaled $1.3 billion last year. By comparison, New York has a $700 million cap on tax incentives, with California’s cap currently set at $330 million.

The Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts has faulted that state’s tax credit for being structured in a way that allowed more than half of industry wages to be paid to people who live in other states.

Between 2015 and 2020, New York City’s film and TV industry increased employment there by 17 percent to nearly 80,000 people, according to data cited by Deloitte auditors, even as screen jobs in California dropped 4 percent.

It was Connecticut that was building industry star power more than a decade ago, as it drew Blue Sky Studios and NBC Sports in quick succession across the New York border, which with ESPN’s and WWE’s existing operations put the state on the industry map. And Stamford became a minor tourist destination after NBCUniversal took over the downtown Rich Forum Theatre for daytime talk show tapings, including “The Jerry Springer Show” and “Maury.”.

Since then, Connecticut has seen proposals for new screen production campuses, but none with the financial backing of the most powerful producers in Hollywood. Connecticut Studios and Hollywood East fell by the wayside in South Windsor and Stratford, respectively, while Jaigantic Studios has yet to move ahead with a large facility teased for New Haven by actor and producer Michael Jai White.

That has occurred as other locales have seen studios emerge from marquee names in their midst — Robert De Niro and Tyler Perry have large new studio expansions in…

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