|Joseph DiLorenzo says time is a factor. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File 2009)|
Film studio dream is smaller but still alive
PLYMOUTH — A team of Hollywood executives roared into America’s Hometown in 2007 with a promise of big dollars and widespread fame as the future film capital of the East Coast.
Plymouth Rock Studios was going to have soundstages, back lots, housing for the stars, job opportunities for the locals, and training to develop a skilled work force.
At the start of 2011, where is the Plymouth Rock Studios project?
Two of the three major players from those early days, Earl Lestz and Thom Black, have left. The third — David Kirkpatrick, the long time face of Plymouth Rock Studios — has split from the company he founded.
The divide with Kirkpatrick came six months after the Globe unearthed his history of lawsuits, broken deals, and financial instability. While Kirkpatrick reportedly remains in Plymouth, he has no connection to the movie studio project and is head of Rock Entertainment LLC, which produces scripts, movies, and television programs.
The current team, now called Plymouth Rock Studios Holdings LLC and headquartered in the clubhouse of the Waverly Oaks Golf Club, has been flying under the radar since its public relations debacle in November 2009, when a $550 million financing deal with a questionable Florida investor fell through.
So what’s expected this year? Plymouth Rock principals don’t plan on talking much until they have solid financial backing in place.
“We’ll wait until we have something to say before we say anything,’’ said Kevin O’Reilly, a Plymouth resident and now executive vice president of government and public affairs for Plymouth Rock Studios Holdings. “Our state permits are still in place, and so is our Town Meeting approval.’’
However, the studio plan has been downsized. The company initially intended to buy the entire 240-acre Waverly Oaks property from Mark Ridder; the new plan calls for Plymouth Rock Studio Holdings to purchase 90 acres, allowing Ridder to keep his 18-hole golf course and function facility open. Construction would occur in phases, with the soundstages and other film-producing components coming first.
After spending the last three years trying to secure seed money, Joseph DiLorenzo, the chief financial officer, agreed that 2011 is a make-or-break year for Plymouth Rock.
“We’re not going to spend our whole lives on this,’’ DiLorenzo said.
But the studio company’s chief executive officer, Bill Wynne, stressed the team is committed to the project. “We’re going to do what it takes to get to the finish line,’’ Wynne said. “You make it work with the resources you’ve got.’’
O’Reilly pointed out the company has already streamlined. It no longer occupies fancy offices in Cordage Park, the plans for an educational facility have been dropped, and the team of techs producing daily YouTube videos on the project is long gone.
Local leaders expressed continued faith that the studio project will eventually succeed.
“They’ve obviously had some setbacks, but I think as the economy gets better, we may see something,’’ said Bill Hallisey, chairman of the Plymouth selectmen. “As a town, all we can do is remain optimistic.’’
Peter Forman, executive director of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, said that very little information regarding Plymouth Rock Studios has been circulating.
“Funding is a problem, but it is getting better,’’ Forman said. “Studio projects are complicated real estate deals because you have to get people to take the leap of faith to invest either cash or to build services around the project.’’
Meanwhile, members of Plymouth’s business community who invested in the studio project early on have yet to see any return. “We have regular communication with our investors, and we appreciate their support,’’ Wynne said.
Among the investors is O’Reilly.
“I invested knowing full well the risk,’’ he said. “Everyone understood that.’’
Christine Legere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.