ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak said the two sound stages were built to support the company's efforts towards expanding its audience and content output beyond the Philippines and to foreign audiences: ‘We want to bring ABS-CBN content to the international stage, and having a state-of-the-art facility and a world-class production team is a big step for us towards that direction and dream’, he commented.
ABS-CBN chairman Mark Lopez added: ‘What I'm most proud of about this project is that we're creating Hollywood-level sound stages which puts us at par with the rest of the world’. This project was the brainchild of ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Eugenio "Gabby" Lopez III, who saw that building the studios is the best way to keep in step with the world's top entertainment companies, which shoot bigger percentages of their programs and films in sound stages and not in remote locations. Moreover, the sound stages also enable the company to manage production costs more efficiently.
‘Completing the sound stages represents a very major step for ABS-CBN in terms of our ability to create much better production. Through this we can show the world the best of the Filipino’, remarked Lopez III.
Present at the inauguration of the sound stages along with Lopez III, Lopez, and Katigbak were ABS-CBN board member and former President and COO Freddie Garcia, ABS-CBN board adviser, former president and CEO, and current CCO Charo Santos-Concio, ABS-CBN COO of broadcast Cory Vidanes, and ABS-CBN Film Productions Inc. managing director Olive Lamasan, together with Rep. Rida Robes, Mayor Art Robes, and some members of the ABS-CBN community.
The sound stages represent the beginning of a plan to establish a production hub that include sound stages, backlots, production and post production facilities and offices that will allow both ABS-CBN and Philippine-based productions to match production facilities found elsewhere in the world.
In parallel with the construction work, the production and support teams for both TV and Feature Films began a three-year training program for the stages both in Hollywood and in the Philippines designed by Manhattan Beach Studios together with ABS-CBN Studios Inc. and ABS-CBN University. Covering all aspects of production, the courses involved over 150 people and were designed to ensure that production processes mirror the best practices in the world.
Following the intensive training camp for production staff and crew, the studios will host the productions of upcoming teleserye The Faithful Wife and the much-anticipated Darna film in the second quarter of 2019.
Phase 1 of the production hub includes two 1,500 sq. m. (16,000 sq. ft.) sound stages with a floor to grid height of 30 feet, a breezeway with dressing rooms and various support rooms and the technical facilities in aid of production. Sitting on 7.7 hectares, the facility includes a visitor's center, parking facilities and various support buildings. The sound stages also boast of solar panels that help support the energy requirements of the whole facility.
Inaugurated in time to celebrate not only its 65th anniversary but also Star Cinema's 25th year anniversary, the stages will enhance the production output for both TV and film in the years to come. Designed by California-based architecture firm Bastien and Associates together with Filipino firm AIDEA and consultants from Hollywood-based Manhattan Beach Studios, these represent a new wave of sound stage design customized for the Philippine climate.
Coincidentally, the sound stages are being inaugurated a few days shy of 50 years after the ABS-CBN Broadcast Center in Quezon City was inaugurated. Considered the most advanced facility in Asia at that time, the center opened on December 18, 1968.
Work on the sound stages started as early as 2010 with various members of the executive and production teams visiting facilities in South Korea, Mexico, North America, Europe and Asia to understand the nuances of sound stage work. The project proper started in Q1 of 2014 with construction commencing May 2017.