On Sunday Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis (District 6) and City Council President Ken Sanchez (District 1) announced legislation to authorize the prospective Netflix deal to buy Albuquerque Studios will have its own special session this Thursday, instead of being discussed at Monday’s City Council meeting.
“We had looked at holding this meeting on Monday, but we just felt the issue was too critical and too important,” Sanchez said.
Davis said having the meeting pushed back allows the public to “examine a deal shrouded in secrecy and excitement for months.”
This would be Netflix’s first studio in the United States. The multinational company owns another studio just outside of Madrid, Spain. The media juggernaut has an net income in 2016 of over $500 million and over 57.4 million subscribers U.S.
And while the proposal has been receiving international attention, it’s not a done deal yet.
“Nobody has signed on the bottom line yet,” Davis said. “Somebody said the other day that this was sort of a very big billion dollar handshake-deal.”
The $1 billion figure cited in headlines is money Albuquerque is speculated to make in the next decade because of the deal.
According to the proposed agreement Netflix is commiting to spending at least $600 million in the first five years in the studio on original New Mexico productions. It also pledges at least $400 million from directly and indirectly spending on productions and leasing to other filmmakers for the following five years.
Netflix is asking for a total in $14.5 million Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) funding, $4.5 million from city funds and an additional $10 million the city could receive from the State Economic Development Department. LEDA funding is under the City Council’s purview.
The Albuquerque Development Commission voted unanimously last Thursday recommending the City Council pass the $4.5 million incentive package, asking that it be voted on Monday.
Netflix has set a deadline of Oct. 23 for securing LEDA funding and moving forward with the deal.
Director of the city’s Economic Development Department Synthia Jaramillo emphasized job creation alongside economic impact.
“The film industry builds solid middle-class jobs,” Jaramillo said. “And that is very important to this council and the administration.”
Albuquerque Studios is located south of Albuquerque in the Mesa Del Sol Development. Back when it was proposed in 2002, the 25-square mile development is part of a private-public partnership including the City of Albuquerque, the state and the University of New Mexico.
Film Liaison Alicia Keyes, newly appointed in April, directs the city’s film office. She said that the mayor’s office saw Albuquerque Studios as being underused.
“It’s a world-class facility that sometimes wasn’t even at fifty percent capacity,” Keyes said.
Albuquerque Studios were unveiled in 2007. The eight-soundstage complex spans 316,000 square feet between stages, offices and storage, costing $74 million dollars. In 2016, there were 10 productions being made in New Mexico.
While the meeting is later in the week, both councilors were optimistic in passing the bill. President Sanchez said the economic projections for the project may be “conservative estimates.”
“Bringing Netflix to the Land of Enchantment and Albuquerque will be a tremendous asset for the workforce and our community,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez said public comment will be available at Thursday’s meeting, and will start at 5 p.m. the Albuquerque City Council building.
Danielle Prokop is a staff reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ProkopDani.