Universal plans to remove 13 soundstages from six buildings on the front part of its Lower Lot, while building 10 new soundstages on its Back Lot, according to the plan. The stages that will be removed surround the Transformers: The Ride 3D building on the theme park's Lower Lot, where Universal recently demolished Stage 28, the old Phantom of the Opera stage. That now-vacant space is widely expected to be the site of the new The Secret Lives of Pets dark ride that NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke confirmed the company is developing.
The removal of the additional soundstages provides Universal with even more space to expand the theme park, which has enjoyed several years of strong attendance growth, thanks to the addition of new attractions such as Transformers, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Springfield USA and Fast & Furious - Supercharged, all leading up to April's debut of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
But Universal's not giving up on film and television production. By building 10 new soundstages on the backlot, the studio can modernize its facility to accommodate the needs of today's online and television productions. "Most of the studios were designed many, many years ago, and much of it was not in a master plan and it was designed for a different type of production in a different era," Michael Moore, president and general manager of NBCUniversal Studio Operations Group, told Variety.
Universal will build the new soundstages on land that will fill the current "Creature from the Black Lagoon" lake on the Back Lot, meaning the end of the old "Parting of the Red Sea"/Skull Island miniature encounter currently featured on the Studio Tour. Construction is scheduled to begin next year and will be completed in two phases over 2017 and 2018. Ultimately, Universal will end up with an additional 11,000 feet of soundstage production space, despite the net loss in the number of soundstages.
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