Studio Timeline

A long and glorious history...

Astoria Studios has been making entertainment history for 90 years. It's doors were opened by the legendary Adolph Zuckor in 1920. Eventually, the studio became a home for Paramount Pictures, and during the next 20 years, over 120 silent and sound films were produced at the studio.

At the start of WWII, the studio was taken over by the U.S. Signal Corps and became known as the Army Pictorial Center.

The building eventually fell into disuse, until a non-profit foundation re-opened the big stage in 1977 for the production of "The Wiz."

In 1980, New York City turned to real estate developer George S. Kaufman to renovate, expand and revive this national landmark. Working with many interested organizations, he was able to achieve his vision of a full-service, comprehensive studios capable of handling any type, size and style of production.

Today, KAS is the location for major motion pictures, independent film, television shows and commercials. Our stages have been graced by stars such as Bill Cosby, Harrison Ford, Meryl Streep, Al Pacino, Mel Gibson, Demi Moore and the cast of Sesame Street.

Explore our timeline and experience the magic of KAS through the ages:

    The Silent Era: 1920 - 1928

    Over 100 films were produced at Astoria during the Twenties. New York was the center of the fledgling film industry, and Astoria was the Mecca of the Silent Era. The main stage, basement stages and exterior backlot were heavily utilized, with up to six feature films in production at any given time.
    It was here at the Studio that the moving picture industry developed many of the techniques that were to become the conventions of production. From Valentino, Swanson, the Gish sisters and W.C. Fields, Astoria was home to the great talents of an exciting new industry. Still, the motto for actors on Broadway was: "don't quit your night job."

    The Talkies: 1929 - 1941

    With the advent of "talkies", production at Astoria blossomed. Drawing on the wealth of writing and acting talent of Broadway, the Studio profited from its proximity to "the great white way". The Letter, the first all talking feature film shot at the Studio, earned an Oscar nomination for actress Jeanne Eagels. The talking film debuts of Claudette Colbert, Edward G. Robinson and Tallulah Bankhead were filmed here..
    The Marx Brothers moved from Broadway to the silver screen in Astoria. In addition to the scores of feature films produced at Astoria, the Studio was home to the famed Paramount Newsreels ("the eyes and ears of the world"), and Paramount's prolific short film divisions. By the end of this period Adolf Zukor, the man who built the studio, had already moved out to California, as did much of the film industry.

    The Army Era: 1942 - 1970

    In 1942 the U.S. Army began production at the Astoria Studio and renamed it the Signal Corps Photographic Center (SCPC). In the months after Pearl Harbor the studio filled a major need for expanded production capability required to speed the training of millions of wartime inductees.

    Basement recording stages were pressed into service during wartime blood drives and medical films became their specialty.
    The Signal Corps continued to make films, training films and TV series throughout the Korean War and anti-communist years.

    Before production halted in 1970, Army television engineers pioneered many broadcasting techniques later adopted by the commercial networks.

    Transition & Revival: 1971 - 1983

    In 1970 the Studio was declared "surplus property" by the Army and turned over to the Federal Government. In 1972, the Government offered the property to the City University of New York for use as the campus for LaGuardia Community College. The city budget crisis, however, did not allow the development to occur. Production returned to Astoria in 1975, with the leasing of the Studio for the production of Thieves and, the following year, The Next Man.

    In recognition of its historic importance, the Astoria studios were designated as a National Historic Landmark by the Federal Government in 1976.
    The Studio was formally re-opened in 1977, under the auspices of the Astoria Motion Picture and Television Center Foundation, which acquired a lease for the property from the Government.

    In 1982 the title to the Studio was transferred to the City of New York, and in 1982 real estate developer George S. Kaufman in partnership with Alan King, Johnny Carson and others, obtained the lease from the City.

    The Modern Era: 1985 - Today

    Kaufman has grown to become New York's Production Center. It is a complex of facilities that make a total environment for production possible again in New York City, from pre-production to post-production.
    With seven stages (including the largest stage East of L.A.), a lighting and grip company, a music recording studio, audio and video post-production and complete production support facilities and services as well as a full service cafe and catering facility, KAS can handle all your production needs.