What are Scientologists doing with their new LA film studio?

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The Church of Scientology has certainly accumulated a lot of property in the Los Angeles area. From the iconic blue-hued western headquarters on Fountain Avenue to the former Chateau Elysee on Franklin Avenue that now serves as the Celebrity Center, there’s no shortage of places to find sleek promotional brochures and a quick summary of Dianetics. Now, the church has opened a new media productions studio on Sunset Boulevard, and LA Weekly is wondering what it’s up to.

The church acquired the facility from longtime owner KCET in 2011, but the history of the Sunset Boulevard property goes back much further than that. Named a historic-cultural monument in 1978, the historic complex was constructed in 1912. It served as a production studio for a long string of failed movie producers before KCET scooped it up in 1970.

Of special significance to the church itself, the studio is allegedly where Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s brief stint as a Hollywood screenwriter began in 1937. According to the church, an office at the facility “includes the threshold LRH first crossed to start his cinematic work” and has now been outfitted with “an exhibition of his prodigious output during the Golden Ages of popular fiction and motion pictures.”

So, what is the church planning to do with its newest property? Well, for one thing, you can probably expect the number of terrifying PSAs and Super Bowl ads to increase. For another, the church plans to launch its own TV network in the near future.

But LA Weekly suggests that church officials may also be buying properties like the Sunset Boulevard studios as a shrewd business investment. As a recognized religious entity, the church enjoys tax-exempt status, but as such cannot seek profit or accumulate large piles of money. As such, the church may be investing its cash in real estate to grow its $1.5-billion empire. A spokesperson for the church tells LA Weekly that it owns more than 30 properties in the greater LA area.

The good news for the preservation-minded is that the church has proved to be an exemplary caretaker of the many historic properties in its portfolio. Local historian and LA Conservancy member Marc Wannamaker tells LA Weekly he couldn’t be happier about the church’s purchase of the KCET facility. “We’re not big Scientology fans, but when it comes to saving the properties, I don’t care who they are. They’ve been very good stewards of their buildings,” he says.

To get a good look inside the new facility, check out the exhilarating video below—produced, of course, by the church.

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