Is NYC the New Hollywood? Robert De Niro Bets $400M It Will Be

The actor, Netflix and others are joining the city’s booming film and TV industry

Robert De Niro New NYC Film Studio Wildflower
Robert De Niro co-founded Tribeca Productions and Tribeca Film Festival. Now, he's investing in Wildflower Studios.
John Lamparski/WireImage/Getty
By Alex Lauer / July 10, 2019 1:16 pm

In 1999, the film and TV industry had fled New York City for cities and states with better incentives. Still, Robert De Niro wanted to open a $150 million sound-stage complex in Brooklyn. It fell through. Twenty years later, the actor, along with Netflix and other power players are investing in the town as the city looks to be a new Hollywood.

De Niro is part of a group of investors, including his son, that is purchasing a five-acre lot in Astoria, Queens “to build a sprawling production and film studio,” reports The New York Times. The name: Wildflower Studios. The price tag: $400 million, which will include “a nearly 600,000-square-foot facility designed as a one-stop shop for movies and television shows.”

He’s not the only one getting in on the action. Netflix is expanding its presence with both a new corporate office and production hub. Kaufman Astoria Studios, which opened in 1920, is adding two sound stages in Queens. Silvercup Studios has two new production properties. And Steiner Studios, which took over De Niro’s first failed deal, is about to start construction on one of Hollywood’s claims to fame: a real deal backlot.  

The impetus for the film and TV renaissance, and the ensuing industry investment, can be traced back to New York State’s production credit program, introduced back in 2004. As the Times notes, the tradeoff is about $420 million annually in incentives (around $6.7 billion over 16 years), while the productions themselves have spent over $33 billion and created around 1.8 million jobs in the state since the beginning of the program.

“We have had an explosion,” Hal G. Rosenbluth, the president of Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens, told the Times, “and that explosion was called streaming services.”

What will this mean for you, the person watching on said streaming services? Now, your favorite TV shows and movies that are set in New York City have a pretty good shot of actually being filmed in New York City. It’s too late for Friends and Seinfeld, which were mostly filmed in California, but not for new hits like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which was filmed at Steiner. 

What about Mr. De Niro? Adam Gordon, the president of Wildflower, told the Times that the actor will eventually use the studio for his own projects.

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