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Long Beach airplane hangar goes Hollywood

September 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
An old Boeing hangar is coming back to life. A place where airplanes used to sit could soon see movie equipment. A group of investors is buying the facility and plans to turn it into a massive movie studio.The old hangar is an extremely large building. It's a place where planes were made, but soon it may be used to make movies.

"There's no better location than where we are. And how would you find this building? I mean this was almost a godsend. That it was meant to be," said actor Jack O'Halloran.

The old Douglas Aircraft plant dates to World War II, and is now owned by Boeing. In 2006, the last Boeing 717 aircraft rolled out and into history.

Some thought this facility would become history as well. The city even toyed with the idea of making it a parking facility for recreational vehicles.

"This is delightful. We put this studio together. This is so much better for the city. And it's a great use of a structure that is enormous," said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. "You don't get a sense of how large a million square feet is until you come in here."

The facility could fit 17 football fields. However, they aren't going that route. Instead, building owners hope to install 40 soundstages, which would make it one of the biggest studios in Los Angeles.

After shooting movies in Europe, actor Jack O'Halloran realized Los Angeles of all places didn't have big soundstages. He says this place is perfect.

"This should've been done 20 years ago. So what we will do is we will build this place, and we will outfit it -- wire it -- so that for the next 20 years, as technology changes, it will be adaptable," said O'Halloran.

It's an ambitious and risky plan. The idea is to make the hangar into a small city, including a hotel, TV facilities and make it state-of-the-art. Owners hope it will be so attractive, movie producers won't need to go to Canada or other states to make their projects.

"Over the past decade, California has lost a quarter of a million jobs to runaway production. And with real estate changing, and developers, more and more soundstages and lots are being torn down every day. And, if we don't reinvest in the infrastructure to make films, there won't be a film industry in California," said Jay Samit, Long Beach Studios.

The first phase could be finished by 2010. So the future of moviemaking could be just a few miles south of Hollywood.

 

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