The entertainment industry is going through a bit of a rough time at the moment. It started at the beginning of May, when the 11,500 strong Writers Guild of America – or WGA – went on strike.
That strike grew another level when the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – SAG-AFTRA – joined them. That put the total number of Hollywood influencers on strike to 171,500.
Because Hollywood is the entertainment capital of the world, this has created a bit of a shockwave. Suddenly, all of our favourite shows, including Stranger Things, Saturday Night Live, The Handmaid’s Tale, and our favourite movie franchises like Mission Impossible, Spider-Man, Dune, and a number of independent movies have been put on an indefinite hold.
The Shining Light Of New Jersey
The entertainment industry has certainly been starved of a little good news, but if you look beyond the surface level, there are glints of hope to be found. One of the biggest is taking place in New Jersey.
Towards the end of last year, Netflix announced a capital investment of nearly $903 million to develop an entirely new production facility on the former Fort Monmouth campus. This came after Governor Phil Murphy’s pledge to turn New Jersey into a national leader in the television and film industry.
The Mission They Have Chosen To Accept
This is not a move that has come out of the blue, either. New Jersey has long strived to be recognised as a pioneer in the entertainment industry.
In 2013, it was one of the few states to legalise iGaming, and it has become one of the least restrictive in the US. With several online casinos now welcoming New Jersey players, the iGaming market in New Jersey has been steadily growing, with the state reaching a joint-record of $5.21 in 2022 alone.
The online streaming deal will similarly achieve a lot for the New Jersey economy. The Netflix deal is not only going to lead to job creation – there will be more than 1,500 permanent production jobs, and 3,500 construction related jobs – but the investment will also stimulate a new ecosystem of businesses, services, housing, hotels, and countless other jobs on top of the production and construction roles already mentioned.
The Development Itself
Over the coming years, residents in New Jersey will see the Fort Monmouth area turn into a mammoth production studio complex. There will be 12 soundstages spread across nearly 300 acres, as well as production offices and support facilities.
The campus will also have community amenities, helping to keep the spirit of the film and television industry strong, and the community of New Jersey as a whole included.
It’s also worth mentioning how Lionsgate comes into this. With the film studio named one of the three official studio partners to the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, there will now be studio tax incentives to produce movies and television shows in New Jersey, with production ongoing for a “purpose-built” TV and film production facility.
Working Towards A Bright Future
Looking at what is happening in New Jersey compared to what is happening in Hollywood feels almost paradoxical.
While one state is patting itself on the back after a few mammoth deals that will completely change its infrastructure, the other is deep in a turmoil that is unlike anything we have ever seen in the entertainment world. But that’s not to say that the New Jersey deal has come at the wrong time. In fact, it may have come at the best time possible.
We are seeing a sea-change in the entertainment industry. While the Hollywood strikes do not provide a great image for the “new Hollywood” – especially with streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime shouldering a lot of the blame – they are ultimately a positive thing.
With new tech like AI on the rise, and streaming services changing the foundations of Hollywood, writers and performers alike have set out their stall and asked the film and television corporations: what’s next?
New Jersey Is Waiting
If things keep going the way they are going, then jobs will be lost and the whole concept of creativity will be at stake. That’s what the strike is fighting against, and that is what New Jersey is fighting towards.
When the studios are finished, the state will be hoping to find the film and industry in a better place. The fears around AI will hopefully have been quelled, the streaming service problem figured out, and writers and performers alike will have cemented a solid – and most importantly – knowable future.
With unions even outside of the sector turning around to support the strike, it’s very likely that – eventually – the unions, writers, and performers will get significant gains on issues across the board. And New Jersey will be there waiting for them.