The Legacy Continues: Universal Studios Opens Four Acres of Shooting Locations Completing the Largest Construction Project in Hollywood History


Universal Studios Hollywood President Larry Kurzweil and NBC Universal Operations Group President and and General Manager Jim Watters present a $100,000 check to Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby and Retired Los Angeles City Fire Dept. Chief Doug Barry at the backlot re-opening ceremony.

Universal Studios has opened four acres of newly rebuilt New York Street backlot locations. A fixture in Hollywood for decades, New York Street (which consists of 13 city blocks of buildings) has been the setting of countless commercials, television shows and feature films such as The Sting, The Blues Brothers, To Kill a Mockingbird, Back to the Future, Frost/Nixon, Bruce Almighty. The shooting location burned in an accidental fire on June 1, 2008 along with the King Kong theme park attraction and a video vault. The site offers a wealth of creative opportunities for film and television production and an exciting behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood moviemaking for Universal Studios Hollywood theme park guests.

“This is a proud day for so many of us. The opening of New York Street shows the company’s commitment to film and television production in Los Angeles and to supporting filmmakers worldwide,” said Ron Meyer, President & COO of Universal Studios.

To show the company’s on-going gratitude, Universal Studios is donating $100,000 over four years to local firefighting departments to buy additional equipment to ensure firefighter safety.

Immediately following the fire, Jim Watters, President & General Manager of NBC Universal Operations Group, and Dave Beanes, Senior Vice President of NBC Universal Production Services, began assembling a world renowned creative team to design the new street. A long-time friend of Universal Studios, Steven Spielberg offered his support, as he has done in the past.

(L-R) Universal Studios Hollywood President Larry Kurzweil, Councilman Tom LaBonge, Universal Studios President and COO Ron Meyer, Steven Spielberg, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, Ret. Los Angeles Fire Chief Doug Barry, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, NBC Universal President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Zucker, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and NBC Universal Operations Group President & General Manager Jim Watters.

Spielberg contacted his long time production designer Rick Carter, Academy Award winner for Avatar. Having designed Back to the Future, Carter had a very personal connection and passion for rebuilding. Headed by art director Beala Neel, this team of award-winning production designers and graphic artists would eventually expand to a staff of twenty-five. Carter and Neel collaborated on the initial design concepts and scope of the rebuild. The construction project became known as The Phoenix Project.

Based on his production experience and comments over the years from filmmakers, Beanes guided the core design team. He decided to keep the original east-west main street and added new locations: a modern New York block with a glass and steel look, Paris Square, London Square and Central Park. The King Kong theme park attraction was moved to expand the location and provide additional production parking. The new King Kong 360 3D attraction created by Peter Jackson will open this summer and will be the world’s largest and most intense 3D experience.

“With the completion of New York Street, we have secured Universal Studios place as the premier shooting location in the world,” said Jim Watters, President & General Manager, NBC Universal Operations Group.

A New Era for the Studio Tour

A signature attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, The Studio Tour has taken over 135 million visitors behind the scenes of the movie and television industry since the first distinctive trams rolled along the Universal backlot in 1964. Recently upgraded with high-definition TV monitors in each tram car, new video content and high-grade digital audio systems, The Studio Tour’s behind-the-scenes experience of a working studio environment has evolved as Hollywood’s longest-running hit production.

“This year marks the beginning of an exciting new era for our world-famous Studio Tour. With the arrival of the highly anticipated King Kong 360-3D, taking the 3D experience to a powerful new level, and the completion of the iconic New York Streets locations, we’re offering a more compelling behind-the-scenes experience than at any time in our history,” said Larry Kurzweil, President and COO, Universal Studios Hollywood.

Safety Features

Universal Studios partnered with the Los Angeles County Fire and Building & Safety departments to create new guidelines for fire safety in the innovative facades. They have fully automatic sprinkler systems, central fire alarm system, built-in fire separation areas and a separate water supply infrastructure for the hydrants and sprinkler systems.

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