EUE/Screen Gems film studio starts latest expansion

A car passes in front of one of the giant buildings at EUE/Screen Gems Studios. The studios has rehabbed historic buildings at the old Lakewood Fairground south of the city of Atlanta and built a 37,000 square foot sound stage - one of the largest in the country - to produce millions of dollars worth of films. Johnny Crawford jcrawford@ajc.com

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A car passes in front of one of the giant buildings at EUE/Screen Gems Studios. The studios has rehabbed historic buildings at the old Lakewood Fairground south of the city of Atlanta and built a 37,000 square foot sound stage - one of the largest in the country - to produce millions of dollars worth of films. Johnny Crawford jcrawford@ajc.com

EUE/Screen Gems, the first major studio that was built in Atlanta after Georgia passed generous tax credits that helped fuel the state’s TV and film business, is in the midst of a major expansion.

The studio, neighboring Lakewood Amphitheatre, is where Denzel Washington’s “Flight,” Jennifer Lawrence’s “Hunger Games: Mockingjay” and Netflix’s wildly popular drama “Stranger Things” have been shot.

It will add 60,000 square foot of soundstage space on top of its current 150,000 in the coming months.

After the expansion, there will be 335,000 square feet of total production space across 12 sound stages including office space and mill/support space.

The studio has long touted its close vicinity to downtown Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. It also has historical significance, going back a century as a fairground, amusement park and antique marketplace.

The studio’s early success more than a decade ago helped open the door for other risk takers to enter the field, including Eagle Rock Studios in Norcross and Stone Mountain, Atlanta Metro Studios in Union City and Trilith Studios in Fayetteville (formerly Pinewood.)

The tax credits only benefit producers of content, not the studio owners themselves. But entrepreneurs are building more soundstages in anticipation of more film business in the state. They are gambling that the state legislature in the future will not make substantive changes to the tax credit that would threaten the state’s competitive stance with places like New Mexico, Canada and New York. They are also hoping the gravy train of streaming service content demand will continue.

Other studios that are in expansion mode include Blackhall Studios in south Atlanta and Three Ring Studios in Covington while newcomers such as Athena in Athens, Assembly film studios in Doraville and Owl Creek Studios near the Indian Creek MARTA station are in the works as well.