It's been more than 50 years since the a new motion picture studio was built in Los Angeles County... more than half a century since the legendary studios such as MGM and Paramount opened their doors. But now there's a new kid on the block, and he's coming on strong.
With Hollywood suffering from a shortage in studio/sound stage space, Roy E. Disney (Walt's nephew) decided to take a chance and build the spanking new Manhattan Beach Studios, near the Pacific in the sunny South Bay region of the Los Angeles basin - a good 20 miles away from downtown Hollywood. Located just a few blocks west of the 405 freeway, and only a few miles inland from the beach, it would seem an ideal California location.
Within weeks after opening, the new 22-acre, $90 million studio already had more business than it could handle. With only five of its planned 15 sound stages finished, Manhattan Beach Studios had already snatched a key client away from in Hollywood.
David E. Kelley Productions, the Emmy Award-winning creator of "Chicago Hope," "Picket Fences," "The Practice" and "Ally McBeal," used to tape their shows at Ren-Mar Studios. But in June 1998, Ally packed up her miniskirts and moved to the beach. From '98 on, "Ally McBeal" (starring Callista Flockhart) was filmed at Manhattan Beach Studios, as was "The Practice" and "Boston Public."
For years, they filmed the smash hit "The O.C." there (and at the local South Bay beaches - not in Orange County), as well as the clever "Boston Legal" (with James Spader and William Shatner).
Currently, they film the crime drama "CSI: Miami", "Medium", "90210" and "America’s Funniest Home Videos" at the studio, plus the new ABC series "Revenge".
And the studio is now home
to Marvel Studios (which was recently acquired by Disney). As Marvel, it
was the base for the filming of the 2010 hit "Iron Man 2", much of 2011's "Thor", and 2012's "Captain America" and "The Avengers".
(David E. Kelly, by the way, is married to actress Michelle Pfeiffer.)
In 2011, it was announced that the two sequels to "Avatar"
(the highest-grossing film of all time) will be filmed at Manhattan
Studios, as James Cameron's company, Lightstorm Entertainment, moves
its production operations to Manhattan Beach. They signed a
5-year lease to take over two big soundstages, totaling 115,000 square
They also filmed scenes from the movies "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Daredevil," "Starship Troopers", "Almost Famous", "The Hot Chick" and "The Panic Room" at Manhattan Beach Studios.
They have recently added a small "urban backlot", a mock city street filled with various two-story storefronts, brownstones & fire escapes, complete with sidewalks & street lamps .
And short-term tenants have
been busy filming TV commercials there, for
companies like Jack In The Box and Honda.
So don't be surprised to see some of the shows' stars hanging around the local "Houston's" and other Manhattan Beach restaurants near the studio.
(The Comedy & Magic Club - where Jay Leno is a regular, is located only a few miles southwest of the studio.)
Getting there: The new studio is located in the South Bay region of the Los Angeles basin, in the city of Manhattan Beach, just a few blocks east of the Manhattan Village Mall. From West L.A., just take the San Diego (405) Freeway south (about 14 miles) to Rosecrans Avenue exit. Head west on Rosecrans (less than a mile) to Redondo Avenue, and turn left (south) on Redondo.
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