Robert Halmi’s Great Point Studios has acquired Hudson Scenic, a Tony-nominated builder of set designs, custom fabrication and automation services for theater, film, TV and theme parks with credits ranging from Hamilton, Hadestown, Aladdin and The Lion King to the Times Square Ball.
The shop is just a mile down the Hudson River from the new Lionsgate production campus in Yonkers, owned and managed by Great Point. Halmi said that given explosive demand for studio space and a massive backlog led by “all the streamers, who want shows faster, anything you can do to help speed that up” helps – in this case “building sets before they [productions] get here” with easy transport to the studio, versus construction directly on site, which can be time consuming.
“And you will get the sets cheaper because we have a 100,000-square foot facility. We have the wood. We have the steel. And we can take it up to you the day before you need it,” he told Deadline.
Halmi declined to discuss the purchase price but said Hudson Scenic is currently “a $30-million a year business, and we expect to triple that” with work in Yonkers – where Lionsgate is the anchor tenant and holds naming rights — and upcoming studio projects. Halmi and Great Point founding partner Fehmi Zeko are eyeing Georgia and LA.
Hudson Scenic was founded in 1980 by Neil Mazzella, who will stay on as CEO along with key members of his team. The company provides custom fabrication, automation and bespoke finishes drawing from over four decades of hands-on experience. The shop includes two adjacent buildings with over 120,000 square feet of space less than 30 minutes from Grand Central Terminal.
Lionsgate Studios Yonkers has three big soundstages that will grow to 20 when the project is done, along with postproduction facilities, screening rooms, office and support space and city street backlots. The facility “marks the start of an exciting new era of East Coast production and we are thrilled to be a part of it,” Mazzella said.
“I am 71 years old,” he told Deadline. “So, after 70, you are thinking, ‘What is the succession plan?’ And there was none. No one to inherit. And selling a business like this is a mystery at any point. I wanted a buyer that would keep it going for the employees.”
He said union contracts are being worked out and should be in place by year end.
Halmi said Lionsgate first tipped him off to the set design experts in the neighborhood. “Lionsgate called and said, ‘You should meet them. They do a lot of work for us.’ So I went to Neil and took the tour, and they had the most incredible set construction shop, building sets for all the iconic shows.”
“It’s one of those things that happens by luck from time to time” — nabbing “a best-in-class set construction company as part of our business.”