In welcome news for the sluggish local film production economy, Marvel Studios has reached an agreement to film four of its superhero movies at Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach.
Marvel said it would shoot the sequel to its hit film "Iron Man" at Raleigh, in addition to "Thor," "First Avenger: Captain America" and "The Avengers." Those films are set for release in 2010 and 2011 and will be distributed through Paramount Pictures.
Marvel Studios also is moving its Beverly Hills executive and production offices to Raleigh's Manhattan Beach facility, which has 14 sound stages with 287,000 square feet. It currently hosts several TV shows, including "90210" and "CSI: Miami."
The deal underscores Marvel's transition from a licensing company to a producer and financier of films from its vast library of comic book characters. Marvel Studios is a subsidiary of New York City-based Marvel Entertainment Inc.
The studio's decision to shoot locally was not entirely unexpected, given that "Iron Man" was mostly filmed in Los Angeles. Director Jon Favreau, who also will direct the sequel, has advocated keeping film jobs in California and has a clause in his contract that says his films will be shot in L.A.
The deal comes amid a downturn in feature film production in the Los Angeles area. That was partly caused by accelerated filming earlier this year as studios rushed to finish projects before a possible actors strike.
Additionally, Los Angeles has been losing feature productions to foreign locales and other states that offer financial incentives.