×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Disney’s New Studio Lot Gets OK From L.A. County Planners

The Walt Disney Co.’s plans to transform a slice of its bucolic ranch near Santa Clarita into a 21st century production center gained a key approval on Wednesday, as the Los Angeles County regional planning commission gave unanimous approval to the project, with some estimates that it will cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Disney’s plans are to build up to 12 soundstages, offices, bungalows, a commissary and parking on nearly 60 acres of its 846-acre property, called the Golden Oak Ranch, where it has filmed such classics as “Old Yeller” and “The Shaggy Dog” and, more recently, scenes from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.

The project will now go before the county Board of Supervisors, with a vote expected in the coming months.

The project faced few objections in comments filed before today’s meeting, except for concerns from the California Native American Heritage Commission that the project site was a “culturally sensitive” area and that care needed to be taken to protect it. At the hearing, some concerns were raised by nearby residents over the project’s impact on traffic and water usage, but others expressed support.

The project also will require the removal of 158 oak trees. Disney plans to plant some 1,600 new oak trees to make up for the loss.

Disney, which unveiled plans for the new lot in 2009, said that it will allow the company to consolidate production in the area to one facility, and to shoot interior and exterior scenes in the same location.

Richard Ballering, VP of production operations for ABC, said it was “really too early to discuss” a construction start because “right now we are simply focused completely on the approval process.” He declined to say whether the project will be built in phases or all at once, saying that the “planning process is still ongoing.”

The company is naming the facilities Disney/ABC Studios at the Ranch, and it says that it will create almost 2,900 jobs and generate about $533 million in annual economic activity throughout the county. But it is also a signal of confidence that the company has that such an investment will be needed in the digital age. Even as studios grapple with changing business models, the growth in production in cable has increased demand for studio space. NBC Universal and Paramount are also in the midst of planning for major upgrades to their facilities in Universal City and Hollywood, respectively.

Disney first shot on the Golden Oak Ranch site in the late 1950s, when it leased space for the “Adventures of Spin & Marty” segments of “The Mickey Mouse Club.” It began acquiring portions of the property in 1959, growing its investment in the years since. The ranch includes rural sets, like a covered bridge, cabins and barns; a residential street; an urban district and even a jungle setting.

Starting in the 1920s, studios began investing in sprawling properties within a 30 mile zone of their headquarters, as a way of saving on the costs of location shooting elsewhere. Walt Disney’s intention in buying up the land was to set aside acreage as suburban sprawl and freeway construction made it more difficult to find natural vistas. Fox and Paramount each owned ranches, but their properties were eventually sold off for use as state and national parkland.

“The entertainment industry is continually evolving,” Ballering said. “This project is about planning for our future and ensuring that we are controlling our destiny.”

More Biz

  • Los Angeles Times

    L.A. Times Reaches Agreement with Guild

    The L.A. Times has reached a tentative agreement with the union that represents the bulk of its non-management employees, the paper announced Wednesday. The agreement follows more than a year of negotiations. The 475 reporters, copy editors, photographers and other staff covered by the agreement must still vote for ratification. Assuming it is approved, it [...]

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Accused of Firing VP Who Complained of Gender Pay Gap

    A former vice president at AMC Theatres filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday, accusing the company of firing her after she complained that she was paid far less than her male peers. Tonya Mangels, who was vice president of product marketing, said that in March 2018 her supervisor inadvertently sent her a spreadsheet that included [...]

  • Johnny Depp

    Johnny Depp Trial Over Location Manager's Assault Suit Delayed to May

    Update: On Wednesday afternoon, Judge Holly Fujie ordered the trial postponed. A new trial date was set for May 11, 2020. Johnny Depp is expected to appear in a Los Angeles courtroom next week for a trial on a lawsuit alleging that he punched a location manager during the 2017 shoot for “City of Lies.” [...]

  • Stranger Things Season 3

    Netflix Undershoots U.S. Subscriber Adds for Q3, Beats Profit Forecast

    Netflix fell slightly short of its U.S. subscriber forecast in the third quarter — and projected lower Q4 subscriber growth than Wall Street was expecting as competition looms from Apple and Disney. Still, the company reported solid gains, announcing a Q3 record for paid subscriber additions and revenue, and handily topped analyst forecasts for profit. [...]

  • Despacito Luis Fonsi Daddy Yankee

    'Despacito' Tops Vevo's Most-Watched Videos of the Past Decade Chart

    In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, Vevo today announced its Top 10 lists of the decade’s most-watched music videos. Not surprisingly, the Most-Watched Music Video accolade goes to Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” (featuring Daddy Yankee), with 6.4 billion views since its release in early 2017. The second most-viewed video is Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” (featuring Bruno [...]

  • MoviePass card

    MoviePass Accused of Contract Breach by Oasis Ventures

    Oasis Ventures Entertainment, a Dubai-based investment fund, sued MoviePass on Monday, alleging that the loyalty-card company stole film titles to create its film unit. Oasis has had a joint venture with action movie producers Randall Emmett and George Furla since 2013. In 2018, Emmett Furla Oasis went into business with Helios and Matheson Analytics, the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content