‘Avatar’ home base Manhattan Beach Studios is sold as part of a $650-million deal

By August 7, 2019 No Comments
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Courtesy of Roger Vincent, LA Times (August 7, 2019)–Manhattan Beach Studios, a 22-acre production facility for making movies and television shows, has been sold to Los Angeles real estate giant Hackman Capital Partners as part of a $650-million deal that includes an entertainment production services company.

The Manhattan Beach complex serves as the headquarters of Lightstorm Entertainment, the company of filmmakers James Cameron and Jon Landau, who are working there on sequels to their hit 2009 science fiction film “Avatar.”

Other current productions there include HBO’s Issa Rae-starring comedy “Insecure,” ABC’s “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and “Diary of a Female President,” an upcoming comedy from Disney Plus.

Hackman Capital said Wednesday that it bought the campus as well as studio-operating company MBS Services from Carlyle Group, an international investment firm based in Washington, D.C.

The deal expands Hackman Capital’s studio empire, which includes Culver Studios in Culver City, where Amazon Studios is based, and Television City, a historic studio complex built by CBS in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles.

It also moves Hackman Capital into the role of production services provider in addition to being a landlord and developer.

MBS Services provides resources for content creation such as lighting and grip equipment for the owners of 35 studios with 259 soundstages in top television and film production markets around the world.

“Studios are very operationally intensive,” said Michael Hackman, chief executive of Hackman Capital Partners. Acquiring MBS Services, he said, “was the next logical step for us in growing our studio platform.”

Hackman Capital is in the process of adding new production space to Culver Studios and is considering ways to modernize Television City as a studio campus. The company is studying options for improvements to Manhattan Beach Studios but has no specific plans, Hackman said.

Hackman Capital acquired Manhattan Beach Studios in a joint venture with New York investment firm Square Mile Capital Management. Hackman declined to say how much of the $650-million transaction was for the Manhattan Beach real estate and how much was for MBS Services.

Seller Carlyle Group bought Manhattan Beach Studios for $150 million in 2007 and launched MBS Services in 2013 to offer management services to other studio owners.

Manhattan Beach Studios is one of the newest studios in the region. It was built in 1999 by Shamrock Holdings of California Inc., the private investment vehicle for the Roy E. Disney family. The studio has 587,000 square feet of buildings including 15 soundstages, production offices and the OGN Supe