Netflix’s takeover of ABQ Studios is complete. Netflix and the City of Albuquerque settled last month, with the corporation paying a little over $30 million for what was billed as a $91 million facility back when it was completed in 2007.
ABQ Studios sits on a 28-acre site and boasts 9 stages—over 170,000 square feet of filming space. With a long line of productions like “Better Call Saul” already in production, hopes and optimism are high. Ty Warren, an executive at Netflix, said, “The people, the landscape and the facilities are all stellar and we can’t wait to get to work—and employ lots of New Mexicans—creating entertainment for the world to enjoy.” Mayor Tim Keller echoed those sentiments, billing the deal as, “a transformative victory that will change the business landscape in the Duke City.”
Netflix has been filming here for some time, currently wrapping up production of mystery series “Chambers” and the epic production, “Messiah.”
Are these projects benefiting local crews? Weekly Alibi met up with local film technician, Ray Naranjo—who has worked with Netflix before and is on hand for these two upcoming shows—to get his opinion on the big move. “Working on Netflix projects has been a big part of my yearly income. Jobs on both projects lasted over three months each, and were shot in various locations, including 1-25 Studios and on locations around N.M. The upgrade from I-25 to Q Studios will be like night and day, and will only bring more business to N.M. I look forward to working not only on Netflix [projects] but on all projects with N.M. film crews.”
According to plans, the state of New Mexico will continue to offer eligibility for all Netflix productions to obtain a tax credit of up to 30 percent through LEDA financing and will invest $4.5 million; the city of Albuquerque will be on the hook for $10 million in direct investment. They go further: Netflix is required to spend $1 billion within the state over the course of the next 10 years. That contract stipulates that Netflix invest $600 million in direct spending in here before Dec. 31, 2023 and an additional $400 million in facility maintenance and upgrades between Dec. 31, 2023 and the end of the year 2028.
If all goes to plan, the state should enjoy increased revenue and more jobs. Last fiscal year, New Mexico saw $234 million worth of direct spending into the local economy with the number of projects costing over $1 million jumping from 30 in 2016 to 52 in 2017. This year the state has already hosted over 38 projects costing over $1 million and expects to surpass last year's figures.
Netflix estimates around 750 local film crew staff hired as a result of the deal. As Naranjo puts it, “Our incentive cap will have public support, and will be raised to support the influx of business, as the volume of new shows will depend on that. It is important that the shows already shooting in N.M. be able to remain, with suitable studio facilities, either by drastically upgrading I-25 Studios, or building new studios similar to state of the art ABQ Studios.”
In the words of Ty Warren of Netflix, “Our experience producing shows and films in New Mexico inspired us to jump at the chance to establish a new production hub here.”