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Trilith Studios, Three Ring Studios and More Georgia Studios Outside Atlanta Offer Creators ‘Everything Storytellers Need’

Photo Credit: ©Walt Disney Co./Courtesy Everett Collection


May 9, 2024 10:15am PT


Located 25 miles south of downtown Atlanta, in Fayetteville, Trilith Studios is the nation’s largest purpose-built studio complex, with a long list of clients ranging from Marvel movies such as “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” to the latest iteration of the game show “Family Feud.” Now, it’s expanding outside its gates with Trilith Live, a seven-acre entertainment complex set to open next month adjacent to the studio in the Town at Trilith, its 235-acre master-planned development with 300 homes — and room for 450 more — a large percentage of which house entertainment workers.


Trilith Live will feature a cinema complex, an 1,800-seat auditorium, 120,000 square-feet of restaurants, shops and office space and, most significant, a pair of 25,000-square-foot stages for productions using live studio audiences, such as reality competition and game shows.


“Our vision is that we’re building a place that has everything storytellers need, anything they can imagine,” says Frank Patterson, president and CEO of Trilith Studios.


According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, more than 800,000 square-feet of new soundstage space has opened for business in the Peach State since the beginning of 2023, and by 2025 it is projected to have upwards of 7 million square feet of stages, more than anywhere else in the U.S.


The rapid growth is epitomized by Cinelease’s Three Ring Studios in Covington, 35 miles east of Atlanta. In October 2023, a mere three years after it first opened, it completed a $144 million expansion, giving it a total of 15 soundstages with nearly 250,000 square-feet of space on 90 acres of land that also includes office space, mills and a large backlot.


“Ninety-nine percent of [Three Ring] was utilized during phase one, so it made perfect sense to expand,” says Gannon Murphy, exec VP of Cinelease.


A month after Three Ring made its bow, Gray Television opened Assembly Studios, built on the site of a former General Motors plant in Doraville, 16 miles northeast of Atlanta. Leased and operated in partnership with Universal Production Services, it has 19 soundstages, along with offices and support spaces and a collection of buildings with façades that can portray locales ranging from New York to New Orleans to European cities like Paris and London.


“None of those architectural types are really available in the Atlanta area,” says Hilton H. Howell Jr., chairman and CEO of Gray Television, which also purchased the adjacent Third Rail Studios, with three additional soundstages. Assembly also has a 300-foot-long water set that can be rigged with green screens behind it, “so you can reformat it as the Atlantic, the Pacific or the Great Lakes,” he says.


For ever-changing backdrops sans water, Trilith Studios has the 18,000-square-foot Lux Stage, which contains an 80 foot x 90 foot x 30 foot LED Volume with a fully articulated ceiling.


“The Lux Stage really represents the first 2.0 endeavor into virtual production volume,” says Wyatt Bartel, president of Lux Machina, which designed, built and manages the Lux Stage.


“It’s designed to be large enough for major motion pictures to do main unit sequences, while leaving enough space on stage for hair and makeup and all of that.”


Georgia’s production boom has also upped the demand for basic old-school production materials like the wood provided by Reel Supplies, a three-year-old company in East Point, southwest of Atlanta, with 18 full-time employees servicing projects throughout the state.


“Our inventory is industry-specific, like balsa wood for breakaway sets,” says company founder and CEO Matt Davis. “If they’re going to throw somebody through a table or something like that, that’s what they use.”

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