NEWS: Universal Studios Backlot Reopens

Rick Carter, Production Designer of the new and improved backlot.

On June 1, 2008 Universal Studios New York St. backlot burned to the ground. Two years later it has now been reopened (as of yesterday) with crews shooting there again starting July 1st. Location scouting is now in progress.

Universal Studios New York St. Backlot contains 13 city blocks of standing sets in different kinds of buildings in different styles or periods in architecture. Before the backlot burned down it was the host to hundreds of films, television shows, music videos, and commercials, not to mention part of Universal Studios attractions.

The fire tearing through the Universal Studios New York St. Backlot. Source: The LAist

Immediately compelled to rebuild, Universal Studios decided to build it bigger, better, and stronger. They were able to achieve this due to the hard work and knowledge of many of those in the art department but chiefly that of Rick Carter, Production Designer of Avatar, A.I, Jurassic Park and Forrest Gump, among others. The 200 million dollar budget also enabled Rick to design the facades of the sets 25 feet taller, build the streets narrower so both sides of the street could be shown in one frame at once, practical rooftops where there were none before, and my favourite detail, interior shooting locations. Usually you would have to build the interior of the set in a studio and then you cut to the exterior but the way they built the facades this time they are built so that the interior can be built right in and easily torn down after the shoot as per usual. This saves a ton of headaches and is really a great new attribute. I can’t wait to get a chance one day to work in the new backlot and use all of the brand new perks they have to offer. Watch the video linked below to acquire a better understanding of the new backlot.

The aftermath of the fire on the backlot.

From left, Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer, Ron Meyer, producer Steven Spielberg, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the opening ceremony for the Universal Studios New York St. backlot on Thursday, May 27, 2010. Source: USA Today, Photo By: Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

The new and improved Universal Studios New York St. Backlot after completion.Source: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images


Rose Lagacé | @artdepartmental

Posted by Rose Lagacé

Rose Lagacé is a production designer for film & television by day and an emerging filmmaker by night. Rose is also the creator and editor of Art Departmental where she celebrates the art and craft of production design.

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Rose XO., Rose XO.. Rose XO. said: Universal Studios New York St. BACKLOT REOPENS: […]


  2. There’s an SDSA street fair on the new New York Street this weekend! I’m working that day and it’s killin’ me that I can’t go.


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