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$1.8B Sony movie studio backed by Mark Wahlberg approved for Summerlin

Updated March 20, 2024 - 8:28 pm

Two major companies are moving forward with plans to build a $1.8 billion movie studio and mixed-use development in Summerlin.

The massive project from Howard Hughes Holdings, the developer of Summerlin, and Sony Entertainment, which was approved Wednesday by the Clark County Zoning Commission, could create 10,000 jobs in west Las Vegas.

No construction timeline for the project has been released.

The impetus for the project dates back to at least September 2022, when Howard Hughes Holdings Chief Executive Officer David O’Reilly read a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal where A-list actor Mark Wahlberg talked about moving to Las Vegas and his vision for a movie studio in town.

O’Reilly said in an exclusive interview with the Review-Journal that he instantly picked up the phone and set up a meeting with Wahlberg to talk about the idea. That led to a few days later, O’Reilly flying to Las Vegas to meet with Tony Vinciquerra, chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

“And we kind of took it from there and now we feel like we are on the precipice, or the verge of getting this thing done, and we’re really looking forward to making this happen,” O’Reilly said.

The Clark County Zoning Commission approved multiple variances that will allow for the development of Summerlin Production Studios and the surrounding mixed-use project on Town Center Drive just off the 215 Beltway. When completed, the project will encompass 10 buildings with approximately 500,000 square feet designed to support a film studio and production facility.

The mixed-use development will include 100,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and office space to support the film studio, an emergency room facility and satellite office for Clark County administration, alongside an already built Clark County fire station.

O’Reilly said the goal with the project is to create a second commercial center in Summerlin, and he wants to localize the entire project as much as possible and create around 10,000 permanent jobs in the process.

Wahlberg is helping the project along in a consultant-style role, Vinciquerra said, and the next step is to work with Gov. Joe Lombardo’s office and the state Legislature to expand Nevada’s film tax credit program.

O’Reilly added Howard Hughes Holdings and Sony Pictures are prepared to make the initial investment to build out the entire project before they see any tax credits from the state as a show of faith for the project.

Vinciquerra said branching out into Las Vegas with a studio is another sign of the times in the shifting movie production landscape away from the industry’s traditional epicenter.

“It’s gotten pretty crazy here politically,” he said, referring to California where film and TV have been a cornerstone industry for decades, “and there’s a tremendous amount of advantages (in building in Las Vegas) and we think that we would bring a lot of high-paying jobs to the state of Nevada. And the average pay for our (production) employees is around $100,000 and there aren’t many jobs in other businesses that have that kind of average and they are all union jobs, too.”

Kim Spurgeon, director of the Nevada Film Office, has said Las Vegas needs more film studio space to pursue the “Hollywood 2.0” concept that has been floated by Wahlberg.

Once completed, Vinciquerra said it will be a common sight in and around Summerlin to see movie stars and working actors alike within the community along with studio staff who will have come over from California for specific projects to work alongside local staff.

Contact Patrick Blennerhassett at pblennerhassett@reviewjournal.com.

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