×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lot’s plot thickens

Sony's Culver Studios off market; redo set

Sony is pulling Culver Studios off the market and giving the historic annex to its storied main lot a mini-makeover.

Move follows a more-than-yearlong search to find a buyer for the stately colonial-style facility, spread over 17 acres just east of the main Sony Pictures Entertainment lot in Culver City. For the past few months, an unspecified buyer had been trying to shore up financing to no avail.

“The people who were pursuing the deal weren’t able to structure a deal we were comfortable with or found acceptable,” said studio operations prexy Gary Martin.

Sony had been in exclusive negotiations with unspecified financial investors, but officials declined to name the party.

Culver Studios — valued at $80 million-$90 million when SPE began shopping the facility — features 14 soundstages devoted largely to network and syndicated TV production. Two of the stages allow studio-participation formats.

Lot looks more like a Virginia plantation than a California film studio, but classic movies lensed there include “King Kong,” “Gone With the Wind,” “Citizen Kane” and “Raging Bull.” More recently, Paramount filmed its “What Women Want” at Culver, and Sony produced parts of both its “Stuart Little” movies there.

Culver Studios was built in 1919 by film pioneer Thomas Ince and later was used by moguls Cecil B. DeMille and David O. Selznick. In the 1950s, Culver was home to several Desilu skeins, then got a facelift in the late 1980s under Grant Tinker’s GTG Entertainment.

Sony bought the property a couple years after its 1989 move into the main lot, formerly the longtime home of MGM. Combined lore of the properties and their present-day film and TV productions have prompted the host municipality to begin billing itself as Culver City — the Heart of Screenland.

Sony listed the Culver lot with real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield in March 2002. At the time, Sony was scrutinizing its entire physical plant for ways of eking out new cost efficiencies and even briefly considered selling its main lot at one point.

Martin said he’s always been fond of Culver and slogged through the difficult sales process a bit grudgingly. “Finally, I thought, Let’s bring it back into the family here and make it really something special,” he said.

Culver has elaborate fiber-optics links to Sony’s main lot, and up to 60% of its capacity will continue to be used for Sony projects, he estimated. But Martin said he also aims to rejigger some of the office space to make it “more user-friendly” for the rental market.

“One or two stages are currently unoccupied,” said Martin, “but bookings go through the end of the year.”

No cosmetic sprucing up is envisioned. “It’s in pretty good shape the way it is,” Martin said. “This is more of a functional change.”

“I’m elated we have the studio back,” he said. “I think it’s one of the best studios on the Westside.”

More Scene

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. “We’re kind of going back to more of a thematic element. I have some close [...]

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream hosted by AT&T and from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. “I’ve seen more smiley symbolism lately, and I’ve [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. For those who haven’t caught on to the “Schitt’s Creek” [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content