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Big New Covington Production Studio Throws Hat Into 'Y'allywood' Ring

Another movie studio is about to take shape near Atlanta, with a host of soundstages to be erected in Covington by year's end.

Rendering of Cinelease Studios — Three Ring in Covington, Georgia.

Three Ring Studios is set to break ground in the next month on three of its eight planned film studios with attached office space, as well as three buildings for set construction and another equipment rental facility operated by HercRentals.

In all, Three Ring Studios plans to deliver more than 220K SF by the first quarter of 2019, the studio's founder, Rahim Charania, said.

Charania — who also is CEO of American Fueling Systems — has been working toward this studio since last year, when he first floated plans for a $110M, 600K SF mixed-use movie and postproduction campus on 160 acres off John R. Williams Highway in Covington, some 35 miles east of Atlanta. 

Charania said he is confident that — as long as the state's entertainment tax incentive remains — Georgia will continue to draw not only major movie studios, but production companies churning out shows and features for cable and streaming services. There is only so much studio space in California.

"The only way to win those eyes is with original content, which they have to produce," he said.

Three Ring Studios is joining the Y'allywood scene in Metro Atlanta, home to several film production studios ever since the state adopted a 30% tax incentive for productions of more than $500K in 2008. Other major studios in the metro area include EUE/Screen Gems Atlanta, Mailing Avenues Stageworks, Pinewood Atlanta Studios and, most recently, Third Rail Studios in Doraville.

At total build-out, Three Ring Studios would become among the largest studio production campuses in Georgia in terms of square footage, surpassing Tyler Perry Studios in terms of total square footage and rivaling Pinewood Studios Atlanta's massive campus.

Woodvale managing partner Rahim Charania

Charania is chasing a busy slate of feature films and television shows that are expected in Georgia in the coming months. According to the Georgia Film Commission, there are 28 TV shows and movies in production right now, including HBO's “Brooklyn” series, Paramount's “Gemini Man” and Disney's “Jungle Cruise.” Another 11 productions are in preparation, including a third “Guardians of the Galaxy” feature.

But Charania is angling for a studio or production company to make Three Rings a more permanent home, much like what Tyler Perry has done with his redevelopment of the former Fort McPherson military base.

“We are working toward capturing a large-scale user or a group of production companies with multiple green-lit contents on their slate,” he said. “But we have not finished a deal with anyone at this point.”

Aerial for Three Ring Studios campus in Covington, Ga.

There is certainly interest among studios for longer-term arrangements. Within the past year, Netflix — which shot its hit series “Stranger Things" in Georgia — inked a five-year lease for space at EUE/Screen Gems.

It isn't just the major studios that are producing original content, but cable and television stations and companies that have never before produced video content have been jumping into the act.

“We haven't even seen what AppleTV is going to do yet,” Charania said.

Still, there is plenty of competition for Georgia aside from California. Raulet Property Partners Managing Partner Tyler Edgarton — whose firm owns three studios in Atlanta, including Mailing Avenue Stageworksrecently told a Bisnow audience the state already lost television show pilots this year to Canada.

Tim Bourne, a freelance producer who has made a number of films in Georgia over the years and is currently producing a sequel to 2015's “Goosebumps,” said Canada is becoming more attractive thanks to a weakening Canadian dollar. But Bourne said that should not prove to be a major hindrance for Georgia's aspirations to remain a dominant production player. 

“The bottom line is always going to be money. The studios don't care a rat's ass about anything creatively,” Bourne said. "They'll go anywhere they can get the most bang for their buck. And right now that's Georgia."