Hollywood A-lister Mark Walberg has gotten the green light for a new $1.8 billion, 31-acre film production studio in Las Vegas. 

A couple of years ago, Wahlberg outlined his vision for a “Hollywood 2.0” production studio in Las Vegas. And now, with backing from Howard Hughes Holdings CEO David O’Reilly and Sony Pictures chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra, the studio on the west side of Las Vegas, in Summerlin, is in the works—at least on paper. 

As of yet, a timeline for construction has not been disclosed.

How did this studio project go from vision to approval?

In September 2022, the CEO of Howard Hughes Holdings, David O’Reilly, read a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal where Wahlberg talked about moving to Las Vegas and his vision for a local movie studio—a Hollywood 2.0 that would create thousands of jobs for local residents. 

As O’Reilly tells it, he instantly picked up the phone and called Wahlberg to set up a meeting. And a few days later, he was on the plane to Vegas to meet with both Wahlberg and Tony Vinciquerra, the chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures. 

O’Reilly told the Review-Journal:

“We kind of took it from there and now we feel like we are on the precipice, or the verge of getting this thing done, and we’re really looking forward to making this happen.”

David O’Reilly, CEO of Howard Hughes Holdings

CEO, Howard Hughes Holdings

The goal of the studio project, as O’Reilly put it, is to create a second commercial center in Summerlin. Per their agreement, Wahlberg will serve as a consultant. 

Vinciquerra said the next step in the process is to work with Governor Joe Lombardo’s office and the state Legislature to expand Nevada’s film tax credit program. Though a previous effort to expand the program failed in last year’s legislative session, a Nevada lawmaker is planning to submit another bill to that effect. 

According to Variety, before the previous bill failed, Sony announced it was ready to spend up to $1 billion in production in Southern Nevada over the next decade. 

O’Reilly has also said Howard Hughes Holdings and Sony Pictures are prepared, as an act of good faith, to make the first investment to build the Summerlin studio and mixed-use development before they see any credits from the state.

The studio project, which the Clark County Zoning Commission approved on Wednesday, March 20 (2024), could generate 10,000 jobs for local residents in west Las Vegas. 

Details on the Summerlin studio

The variances approved by the Zoning Commission will allow the Culver City-based media company and Texas-based developer to develop Summerlin Production Studios at South Town Center Drive and West Flamingo Drive, just off the 215 Beltway. 

The finished project will have 10 studio buildings with 500,000 square feet of soundstages, offices, flex space, and room for making props and equipment. It will also include 100,000 square feet of surrounding shops, restaurants, and offices to support the studio, along with a medical emergency room and satellite offices for Clark County administration.

Why Las Vegas?

The first and simplest answer would be the fact that Las Vegas happens to be where Mark Wahlberg and his family now live. But there’s more to Wahlberg’s vision than bringing the Hollywood movie-making industry to a more budget-friendly locale. 

Vinciquerra spoke on the benefits of shifting movie production away from Hollywood (and California in general) and into Las Vegas:

“It’s gotten pretty crazy here politically…and there’s a tremendous amount of advantages (in building in Las Vegas) and we think that we would bring a lot of high-paying jobs to the state of Nevada. And the average pay for our (production) employees is around $100,000 and there aren’t many jobs in other businesses that have that kind of average and they are all union jobs, too.”

Tony Vinciquerra

Chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures

As for Wahlberg himself, the 51-year-old actor moved to Nevada with his family last fall (2023) and has made no secret of his plan to build a “state of the art” studio and boost the film and TV industry in Vegas to bring thousands of high-paying jobs to the area.

“We’re looking to create 10,000 jobs on the studio alone…

“The average salary would be $100,000 more than what it is now. We want to train people both in front of and behind the camera, create jobs, most importantly, first and foremost, for locals.

“And then, after that, I think we can attract a lot of people…The housing market is great.”

Mark Wahlberg

Wahlberg told FOX Business how a group of his employees, who came with him from California, have personally benefited from the lower-cost lifestyle in Las Vegas.

“When I moved here, I brought probably like 15 or 20 people that work with me also moving here. They went from three-bedroom houses that they were really struggling to pay rent for. And now they have a six-bedroom house. And it’s, you know, half the cost.”

“And, you know, they walk their dogs…They’re in a gated community. They’ve got the school right there two blocks down the road.

“It’s just a much better lifestyle here and more affordable.”

Mark Wahlberg

The two-time Academy Award nominee has previously said he’s hoping to get tax credits from the state of Nevada to help him launch his studio. And he takes some encouragement from the fact that recently-elected Republican Governor Joe Lombardo is intent on attracting other industries to Vegas, which is mainly known for gaming and tourism.

“There’s lots of opportunity for growth here. And the government, especially our new governor, is really looking for opportunities to create jobs outside of gaming.”

Mark Wahlberg