Ready for Your CloseUp?

LEX Studios celebrates opening in the neighborhood

When Woodhill Cinemas closed in September 2016, the property at Codell Drive quickly deteriorated, and the neighborhood wasn’t initially optimistic about what sort of commercial venture might survive and thrive in its place. 

While the property boasted massive assets — with a prime location just off New Circle Road and ample surface parking — the theater had struggled in its final years. More upscale venues opened at Hamburg and Fayette Mall, and downtown maintained the classic charm of the Kentucky Theatre. But with help from Kentucky’s Film Incentive, Wrigley Media set out to transform the abandoned Woodhill movie theater on Codell Drive into a state-of-the-art studio complex for production. 

Photo courtesy Wrigley Media Group

First up, all 150 original half-hour episodes of Relative Justice (a nationally syndicated reality court show filmed in front of a live studio audience/gallery) were taped on site.

It took four years of extensive construction to convert the building from an abandoned cineplex to a 50,000-square-foot production facility with three soundstages, green rooms, office spaces, dining areas for 150-plus, parking for 100-plus, and production support.

In Spring of 2022, Wrigley rolled out the red carpet for a sneak peek of the new facility, and a few weeks ago, LEX Studios celebrated their grand opening. 

The project is expected to boost the economy, create jobs, and is the result of the vision of Misdee Wrigley Miller and James Miller.

“The opening of LEX Studios is a major step toward building a new industry in Kentucky that has the potential to transform the entertainment industry on a national level,” says LEX Studios Owner Misdee Wrigley Miller.

Located at 425 Codell Drive, LEX Studios is now equipped to become a national hub for creative innovation and media entertainment with several projects already slated for the upcoming summer months. Wrigley Miller adds, “Thanks to the Kentucky tax incentive, which is the most robust in the country, we are poised to bring much more film and television production to the state. Enhanced production means business for caterers and restaurants, hotels, car rental companies, etc. and new opportunities for talent throughout the state, as well as those who are interested in a career in production.”

Studio Manager and Producer Tim Sabo says, “Promote the studios, promote the state. We have the goal to become renowned as the go-to production facility for U.S. production outside of the four major production hubs — Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and Chicago.” With 25 years of experience in production including field producing for The Biggest Loser, Sabo moved to Kentucky from California to manage LEX Studios.

“LEX Studios not only offers the technical infrastructure necessary for high-caliber productions, but also grants access to Kentucky’s rich variety of filming locations. From urban settings to natural landscapes, the region provides an array of visually striking backdrops that can elevate any production” adds Wrigley Miller.

The building itself is designed to be a living set with spaces that can stand in as a dining area, courtroom, hospital administration, an FBI Analysis Lab, morgue, and —paying homage to the building’s history —a movie theater. In addition to being a one stop shop for large-scale production, LEX Studios is a resource for local companies for small-scale projects including corporate videos, live streaming, and more. 

LEX Studios’ sister company Wrigley Media Group, also owned by Wrigley Miller and headed up by CEO Joe Livecchi, is located just 10 minutes from LEX and provides additional production and post production support. 

This article appears on page 9 of the July 2024 issue of HJ. You can click here to read a digital version of the July 2024 issue of the Hamburg Journal.

To subscribe to digital delivery of the print edition of the Hamburg Journal every month, click here.