The Charlotte Observer provided more details over the weekend on the proposal to rebuild Eastland Mall as a film studio. It turns out that the film studio aspect isn’t the most critical portion of the plan. Rather, what’s suppose to drive the site’s income stream is tourism. The group pitching the project estimates that at least 350,000 people will pay $30 each the first year to take a two-hour tour of the place. They hope to turn a $5.4 million profit off the tours in the first year and would that figure would grow over time. The facility’s sound stages would make about $4.3 million a year it is hoped, and that figure would stay flat over time.
As the UPoR notes, the projected Eastland movie studio tour projects are greater than that the number of visitors to the NASCAR Hall of Fame each year. What the UPoR doesn’t mention is that NASCAR Hall of Fame tickets are also a bit cheaper ($19.95 for adults).
Developers of the proposed project on the city-owned Eastland site say they are confident about their attendance and budget projections – though they won’t publicly explain how they arrived at the numbers.
Their spokeswoman said they don’t expect to ask for tax dollars for the complex, known as Studio Charlotte.
“It will be self-supportive,” said Barbara McKay. “All of the components of the complex are a private enterprise.”
Wrong. If this were truly a private sector project, it would be entirely privately funded, rather than relying on the city for cheap land and other incentives. Plus, of course, all the state incentives for film productions. And while the assertion that the project will be self-financing is nice and all, the numbers raise serious questions. 350,000+ tourists a year? Really? And what happens if only, say, 150,000 show up? Or 50,000? Does Studio Charlotte even work financially at those lower tourism numbers?