Millennium Studios 'going dark'

Millennium Studios 'going dark'
The 70,000-square-foot Millennium Studios facility cost $10 million and covers 6.7 acres and opened in 2011.
The 70,000-square-foot Millennium Studios facility cost $10 million and covers 6.7 acres and opened in 2011.

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Millennium Studios will "go dark" on November 13.

Studio president Diego Martinez made the announcement Friday afternoon, saying one staff member will remain to service a production that is currently shooting.

While he wasn't able to give any specific numbers, Martinez said the loss of state tax credits are not solely to blame. Business has been very slow, he said, and there have been no studio productions since Olympus Has Fallen was produced here 2 years ago.

They will continue to rent the studio for another few weeks, and 5 employees will be laid off.

Referring to the decision from parent company based in Los Angeles, Martinez said, "I don't know what going dark means."

In a statement released shortly after Martinez confirmed the news, Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler released a statement saying the studio met with the mayor before making the announcement.

"The City of Shreveport desires for Millennium Studios to remain a viable part of our community," said Mayor Tyler. "Shreveport remains a great place to film movies."

Millennium Studios remains under a contractual lease agreement with the City through December 2057.

From alien invasions to serial killer masterminds, the Shreveport-Bossier City area has seen it all since this region was transformed from the second choice in Louisiana for movie makers to the ideal spot for directors and producers to bring their visions to life in this state.

Film makers flocked to the Northwest Louisiana area when New Orleans became unable to accommodate them in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's destruction. And then there are the state tax incentives.

But the writing went on the wall this summer when Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed into law legislation that effectively cut $250 million in tax incentives for film makers to $180 million.

That $70 million difference might not sound like a huge number on paper, some observers said at the time, but could make a huge difference when it comes to keeping the film and movie industry running in Louisiana.

Martinez supported part of the legislation but predicted the cut in incentives could jeopardize his company.

"A lot of people live and die by what's going on," he said at the time. "Some people may be able to move and adjust. But some others really made a living doing this; I'm one of those. If Millennium closes, what do I do?"

In 2005-08 alone, 58 movies with combined budgets totaling $740 million were shot in Northwest Louisiana. Those projects created more than 5,000 jobs. That number dropped significantly after New Orleans again began to flourish. In 2014, only 14 movies with combined budgets of less than $24 million were made in this area.

Millennium Studios, owned by parent company Nu Image, began serving productions and setting the scene for many of Louisiana's most successful movies in 2007.

Martinez came to believe strongly enough in this region's film and movie production industry that he built a state-of-the-art facility in Ledbetter Heights on the edge of downtown Shreveport. The 70,000-square-foot facility that cost $10 million and covers 6.7 acres opened in 2011.

It features 2 sound stages, production offices, a construction mill, a 20,000-square-foot prop house, specialty sets and wardrobe. The property also houses Worldwide FX, which has done work on "Olympus Has Fallen," "Conan the Barbarian," "Trespass," "The Expendables" and "The Mechanic."

All along the way, Martinez and crew have lobbied for other projects to come to this area. Millennium Studios, for instance, has posted on its website a guide providing links, facts and helpful tips to producers thinking of shooting in Louisiana.

Martinez also recently told KSLA News 12 that he has been diligent, as well, at trying to convince some skeptical movie makers to stay in town. "If you've scared off productions and they're skittish on coming to Louisiana, it makes it that much more complicated. That's for sure. We can't survive by just small, local projects. It just doesn't pay the bills."

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