Celtic Group becomes sole operator of BR movie studio

The Celtic Group of Baton Rouge has split with California-based Raleigh Studios and now will be the sole operator of the 30-acre film-production campus southwest of Interstate 12 at Airline Highway.

“We’re no longer affiliated with Raleigh Studios,” Patrick Mulhearn, executive director of Celtic Studios, said Wednesday.

Mulhearn said Celtic Studios now is the sole operator of the Celtic Media Centre, 10000 Celtic Drive, which officials described as the largest design-built studio facility in Louisiana. The campus includes 150,000 square feet of stage space and 90,000 square feet of office space. Eight acres remain available for set construction or future development.

Mulhearn said Raleigh will always be appreciated because the California group was “instrumental in helping us make this a world-class facility.”

But Mulhearn said Celtic officials wanted the independence to handle all future management decisions.

“Our goal is to attract as much film production to this center as we possibly can,” Mulhearn said. “I guess you could say we’re opening up the offense.”

Large black letters that spelled “Raleigh Studios” were being removed from a tall studio building in a cherry-picker operation that was visible Wednesday from Airline Highway. Mulhearn said they would be replaced by Celtic’s name.

Films have been produced on the campus since 2006.

In recent years, the center has hosted production of “Battleship” and “Oblivion,” both by Universal; “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Parts 1 and 2,” both by Summit Entertainment; “Battle: Los Angeles,” by Columbia; and Fox television’s A&E series “Breakout Kings.”

Now, Celtic is hosting an independent feature film, “Zipper,” directed by Mora Stephens, with a cast that includes Patrick Wilson, Lena Headey and Richard Dreyfuss.

Mulhearn would not reveal a specific date for this year’s filming of 20th Century Fox’s “Fantastic Four.”

He added, however, “They’re on track, and you’ll be seeing them around town this spring and summer.”

Going forward, Mulhearn said, “Our goal is to not lose productions to another state or another country.”

In past years, he said, “There have been times when we’ve been booked full and seen a production go to Vancouver or London.”

But Mulhearn said the studio is “masters of our own destiny here, now.”

He said Celtic’s staff are working to ensure alternative sites and equipment is available within Louisiana to serve the needs of film crews at times when Celtic studios are booked.

Celtic’s website shows the center also can assist filmmakers in qualifying for up to 35 percent in marketable film tax credits through the Louisiana Office of Entertainment Industry Development.

Such productions must spend at least $300,000 in Louisiana before applying for those tax credits, Celtic officials noted.

Celtic Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Connor said in a recent statement: “The Celtic Group will continue to connect productions with Louisiana tax credits buyers.”