PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The historic Cranston Street Armory will officially be transformed into a movie set later this year.
The State Properties Committee unanimously approved a deal Tuesday morning that allows 20th Century Studios to rent the building for its upcoming film “Ella McKay.”
R.I. Film and Television Office Executive Director Steven Feinberg said the building will be rented out from Dec. 1 through the end of May, with 20th Century Studios agreeing to pay $10,000 a month plus utilities.
Feinberg said the ongoing actors strike has thrown a wrench into the production timeline, so it’s unclear when filming will actually begin. He added that, if the strike isn’t over by Dec. 1, the cost of rent will be dropped to $5,000 a month until filming officially starts.
The movie, which Feinberg described as a romantic drama, will be filmed in Rhode Island. It is expected to bring approximately 225 full-time jobs to the Ocean State.
“That doesn’t include actors, that doesn’t include extras and that doesn’t include the money spent on vendors,” Feinberg explained.
Feinberg said the movie is being produced by James Brooks, who’s been nominated for 53 Emmy Awards and has won 21 of them. He’s best known for his work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Simpsons, Taxi, Broadcast News, As Good as It Gets and Terms of Endearment.
“He’s 83 and spry,” Feinberg said of the award-winning director and producer.
Though the cast has not been revealed yet, Feinberg said the movie will bring several “big names” to Rhode Island.
Feinberg confirmed that 20th Century Studio will receive an undisclosed amount of tax credits, since it is spending more than $100,000 to produce the film. He said those tax credits will benefit the entire state.
“For every $1 we give in tax credits, it returns $5.44 of economic activity, and that’s just production alone,” he explained.
Feinberg said there’s also a chance that 20th Century Studios further renovates the Cranston Street Armory itself.
“Back in the day, the place was in very poor shape,” he said of the building. “But now, it’s improved dramatically. Those investments that were made … everything from lead abatement and mold removal to adding sprinkler and security systems. There have been a lot of improvements made to that building.”
The long-term future of the Cranston Street Armory, which served as an emergency shelter for the homeless last winter, remains up in the air.
12 News reached out to Gov. Dan McKee’s office regarding the building’s future, to which a spokesperson explained that negotiations with the capital city are expected to continue for several months.
“We welcome activation at the Cranston Street Armory, which is well-positioned for these types of projects,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The spokesperson said McKee is looking forward to the economic activity the production will generate statewide.
This won’t be the only movie filmed in the Ocean State in recent months. Good Burger 2 wrapped up production over the summer and is set to be released on Paramount+ sometime this fall.