Netflix sci-fi series ‘bigger than Game of Thrones’ ready to move into Surrey film studio

Skydance Studios, a state of the art film production facility in Surrey that will be home base for a Netflix series, opens Tuesday

  • Sep. 16, 2016 5:00 p.m.

Actor Joel Kinnaman (pictured in the Robocop trailer at omegaunderground.com) will star in Altered Carbon

Scott Brown, Vancouver Sun

Skydance Studios, a state of the art film production facility in Surrey that will be home base for an ambitious Netflix science fiction series, opens Tuesday with a ribbon cutting.

Skydance Media, the California-based film and television production company behind big-budget Hollywood fare like Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and Star Trek Beyond, which were both filmed in Vancouver, converted the former Pacific Newspaper printing press building in Kennedy Heights (12091 88 Avenue) into a five sound stage studio that can accommodate a production staff of up to 400 people.

The first major production to take up residence in the facility will be Altered Carbon, a 10-episode Netflix series adaptation of author Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 cyber-punk science fiction novel of the same name.

Altered Carbon is set in a future where consciousness is digitized and stored in cortical stacks implanted in the spine, allowing humans to survive physical death by having their memories and consciousness “re-sleeved” into new bodies.

Kinnaman, who filmed four seasons of The Killing in Vancouver, told Yahoo News earlier this year that the series will be Netflix’s biggest endeavour yet.

“They’re really going to be able to create a world that’s got a bigger budget than the first three seasons of Game of Thrones,” Kinnaman said. “It’s going to be something special. It’s something that’s never been done before, and I’m a big fan of intelligent sci-fi. To see a sci-fi show that’s a hard R-rated sci-fi show with a big budget, so they’re really going to be able to create this entire world … I just started drooling at that possibility.”

The city of Surrey has said Skydance Media estimates the new studio will bring in $100 million per year of regional economic spinoffs at full production.

“There’s economic spinoffs in every direction, whether it’s food or hairdressing or rental equipment. The studio will make a big difference even in the sheer number of people here. That’s a huge economic spinoff industry itself,” Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said in May. “In Vancouver, people can’t even get into the studio space.”

They’re really going to be able to create a world that’s got a bigger budget than the first three seasons of Game of Thrones

According to the Director’s Guild of Canada’s production list, there are 61 film and television productions either underway, wrapping up or about to start in Metro Vancouver.

The City of Vancouver reports a 45-per-cent increase in movie and TV production so far in 2016 compared with 2015.

Hollywood studios have been lured to Vancouver by the lower Canadian dollar and B.C. film tax subsidies.

Film and television productions in B.C. receive production services tax credits of 33 per cent and digital animation/visual effects credits of 17.5 per cent. Although Finance Minister Mike de Jong announced in May that those subsidies would be scaled back to 28 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively, come Oct. 1.

Altered Carbon begins production at Surrey’s Skydance Studios on Nov. 14.

sbrown@vancouversun.com

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