Studio the production home for 'Terminator'

Albuquerque Studios isn’t leaving its expansion plans on the drawing board. The studio, owned by Pacifica Ventures, broke ground last year with phase one of its $74 million, 28-acre studio complex consisting of eight soundstages and support offices (Daily Variety, Sept. 17, 2006).

“Film production got in the way, and now we’re in phase 1B of our construction,” said Albuquerque Studios chief operating officer Nick Smerigan.

Open less than a year, the studio just announced it will be the production home for Warner Bros.’ “Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins,” the fourth installment in the “Terminator” franchise. Lensing will begin in early spring and occupy the entire lot until fall.

“When building this facility, this is exactly the type of project we envisioned having,” Smerigan said.

Jeremy Hariton, the studio’s senior veep, said the opportunity to host such a production “speaks to the quality of the studio and great film incentive programs put in place by the state of New Mexico.”

The state offers a 25% rebate within 45-60 days in addition to a four-year interest-free loan on productions with a budget of at least $1 million.

“The Spirit,” with Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson, and “Game,” with Gerard Butler and Michael C. Hall, filmed at the facility, along with AMC’s “Breaking Bad” and USA’s “In Plain Sight.”

Phase 1B for Albuquerque Studios’ expansion includes construction on two new stages, which will be separated by a stationary sound wall, and new office space.

“We are seeing a tremendous amount of interest in stage and production support space in Albuquerque,” said Hariton, who markets the facility. “This new space will enable us to meet the increased demand and provide a home for more production activity on campus.”

In addition, Albuquerque Studios has an exclusive agreement with Union Development Corp. to manage all production- and entertainment-related activities for the city’s historic Rail Yard. The agreement comes on the heels of UDC’s exclusive overall arrangement with the city of Albuquerque to manage the storied property.

Productions using the Rail Yard include “Transformers,” “Beerfest,” “Wild Hogs” and Fox series “The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”

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The Assn. of Film Commissioners’ international board of directors selected board officers for 2008 during its January meeting in New York.

Mary Nelson of the Virginia Film Office becomes VP, professional development; Jay Self (Savannah Film Commission), VP, marketing; and Janice Arrington (Orange County Film Commission), secretary, membership.

Robin James (Pacific Film & Television Commission, Australia) continues in the second year of his two-year term as president. James is the AFCI’s first non-North American prexy. Ward Emling (Mississippi Film Commission) continues in the second half of a term as AFCI treasurer.

“These board officers are seasoned, experienced AFCI member film commissioners,” James said. “They will bring great expertise and enthusiasm to the AFCI’s major program areas.”

Recently elected AFCI board directors are Belle Doyle (Scottish Screen, U.K.); Sue Hayes (Film London, U.K.); Sten Iversen (Montana Film Office); Pat Swinney Kaufman (New York State Governor’s Office for MP/TV Development); Mark Stricklin (Birmingham Jefferson Film Commission); and Lisa Strout (New Mexico Film Office).

AFCI board members continuing their terms in 2008 are Joan Miller (Vancouver Island North Film Commission, Canada); Mary Nelson (Virginia Film Office); and Olivier-Rene Veillon (Ile de France Film Commission, France).

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