Home Culture New Film Studio in West Orange Approved: What to Know

New Film Studio in West Orange Approved: What to Know

by Danielle Farina
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Essex County, New Jersey has had its fair share of silver screen spotlight. After all, our little corner of the Garden State served as The Sopranos‘ soundstage for seven-plus years, with some of our most treasured eateries making cameos throughout the series. Even now, 25 years after the show’s end, Hollywood projects continue flocking to New Jersey, from Walking Dead spinoffs to popular romance novels-turned-movies. Back in February, Netflix received a key approval to move forward on a production complex in Fort Monmouth, NJ. An Essex County town is also venturing to capitalize on the moment. On February 1st, the Township of West Orange published a Request for Proposal (RFP) for downtown redevelopment that included plans for a 12.2-acre film studio complex. Now, the new film studio has officially been approved by the West Orange Township Council. Read on for everything we know about the film studio coming to West Orange, New Jersey.

west orange film studio new jersey

Photo Credit: Creative Commons 

The Details

In August 2006, the West Orange Town Council adopted a Redevelopment Plan for a designated “Redevelopment Area,” an area “situated primarily on the east side of Main Street between Park Avenue and Babcock Place in Downtown West Orange,” per the RFP from January. Since then, the plan has been periodically amended, with the most recent plan adopted on September 14th, 2021. Phase 1 of the development plan included the addition of the mixed-use Edison Lofts residence building, among other developments. The February 2024 proposal marks the fourth amendment in 18 years.

The Ivy at Chatham

Read More: 12 Movies + TV Shows Filmed in Essex County

Included in the plans was a proposal for a film studio complex on approximately 12.2 acres of land on Block 115 of the Redevelopment Area, which includes sections of Standish Avenue and Ashland Avenue. Further updates revealed that the new film studio will be located near the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in Downtown West Orange, behind the Edison Lofts on Main Street. The designated area of land is within the Film Services Overlay Zone, which was approved in an earlier amendment to the Redevelopment Plan.

The film studio is envisioned to span between 150,000 and 350,000 square feet, and will feature three to six production stages ranging from 20,000 to 30,000 square feet each. Each production stage will be equipped with on-site production services, encompassing grip and electric, equipment, props, set building, location catering, cleaning services, and security. The facility will also include office and support spaces, as well as parking facilities capable of accommodating 200 to 400 cars and 30 to 60 trucks. The project anticipates the creation of 300 to 600 new full-time jobs when in full operation.

“We are thrilled about this Film Studio project that promises to propel West Orange forward economically for generations to come,” West Orange Mayor Susan McCartney said in a press release. “A film studio in downtown West Orange, situated at the heart where motion pictures were invented in the Black Maria, Edison’s first film production studio, is not only fitting but is poised to bring prosperity to our town, echoing the impact of Thomas Edison in the late 1880s. This venture ensures financial stability that will positively resonate with our business owners, residents, and the local economy.”

Matrix Development Group, a New Jersey-based real estate developer, was named a potential developer for the project in December 2023. We now know that Matrix has acquired redevelopment rights for the project, and will pay the Township $200,000, which will mirror anticipated property taxes for the year 2023, per a press release. The due diligence period may be extended for an additional eight months, accompanied by a potential supplementary payment of $200,000. During this phase, Matrix will formulate project details, finalize a purchase and sale agreement for the designated properties, provide monthly progress reports, and conduct a thorough evaluation of environmental conditions. You can read the previously proposed agreement between West Orange Township and Matrix Development Group here.



In addition to the film studio, the RFP also notes that “The Redevelopment Area is included in the Township’s affordable housing compliance plan, as certified by the Court.” The new amendment to the redevelopment plan “must provide for the development of a minimum of 44 low- and moderate-income affordable dwelling units, or 20% of the total residential units to be developed, if greater, within the Project Area or elsewhere in the Township.” The RFP indicates that there have been “preliminary environmental investigations in the Project Area,” and concluded that, so far, there are no environmental constraints that should inhibit the development of affordable housing in the designated area.

You can read the complete RFP here and see all the relevant proposal materials here.

The Film Ready Designation

Along with the announcement of the new film studio’s approval from the West Orange Township Council, the township was also recently designated as a Film Ready Community by the New Jersey Motion Picture and Television Commission (NJMPTVC) as a part of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). 

Film Ready New Jersey is a five-step certification and marketing program that educates municipalities on the basics of motion picture and television production and sets basic standards for attracting filmmaking, allowing communities to promote themselves as a filming destination as well as connect with film and television professionals.

The Context

West Orange isn’t the only New Jersey town with a film studio hovering over its future. Back in February, Netflix “received a key approval to build a massive film production complex at Fort Monmouth, the former army base in Ocean County,” per NJ Spotlight News. The required zoning for the $900 million studio was approved by the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority Board, and can now proceed for further approvals.

During Governor Phil Murphy’s first term in 2018, he enacted the Film + Digital Media Tax Credit, a bill that, per NJ.gov, “provides a transferable credit against the corporation business tax and the gross income tax for certain expenses incurred for the production of certain films and digital media content in New Jersey,” landing somewhere between 30% to 35% of qualified film production expenses. The goal of the bill is “to incentivize production companies to film and create digital media content in New Jersey,” with the hopes that the arrival of production companies means more jobs for New Jersey residents. You can read the full law here

New Jersey’s film industry has reportedly created “8,500 jobs across” the state, per NorthJersey.com. The ever-growing industry in New Jersey is thought to revitalize communities in which filming happens. In addition to jobs needed on the actual film location, it’s believed that the presence of crews boosts local economies, who are likely to visit local businesses on off-hours or breaks. This is part of the West Orange mindset: “A film studio in downtown West Orange is the most appropriate historical location in the world and will bring prosperity to the town just as Thomas Edison did in the late 1880s,” said West Orange Mayor Susan McCartney to TapInto back in 2023. “This will provide our town and its stakeholders with financial stability that will positively impact our business owners, residents, and local economy.”

See More: An Ongoing List of All the Movies + TV Shows Filming in Hoboken + Jersey City

We’ll keep you updated as more details unfold. For now, be sure to follow @themontclairgirl on Instagram + TikTok for the latest North Jersey news, and click here to subscribe to our weekly newsletters. 

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