Stage 6 History

In the fall of 2006, Sony Pictures unveiled an exciting renovation of one of its most historic stages - Stage 6. Famous for being the tallest stage ever built in Southern California, Stage 6 was used for many Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) musicals produced during its Golden Age, including APPLAUSE (1929), ZIEGFELD FOLLIES (1945), EASTER PARADE (1948) and SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1951). With new interior office and support space, as well as an exterior face-lift that  retains its Art Deco façade, Stage 6 is once again a highly functional, technologically advanced space on the historic Sony Pictures Studios lot.
Stage renovation projects are a historical fact of life in the film business and on the Sony Pictures Studios lot. As film technology changes, so too must the production spaces, as evidenced by the studio’s architectural records. Soon after Louis B. Mayer took over the executive reins of MGM in 1924, he announced plans to implement a broad expansion of its Culver City studio, necessary to accommodate an increased production slate as well as technological advancements in sound and color. In addition to twenty-eight new sound stages, the site improvements included a 1,500 seat private sound theater, a scoring stage, expansion of the craft and labor industrial center, two miles of concrete roadway, a spur railroad track, and three warehouses. Between 1925 and 1930, approximately $5,000,000 had been spent on this expansion. By 1934 the studio also included six working lots encompassing 187 acres as well as its own police and fire departments, telegraph and post office, water tower, laboratory and art, makeup, lighting, property and camera departments. Accordingly, MGM was considered the largest, most complete and sophisticated filmmaking facility in the world.
Integral to Mayer’s expansion was the construction of sound stages, which would support the advancements in synchronized sound film production. During an incredible three month period, August through October of 1929, Stages 3, 4, 5 and 6 were built incorporating the latest technology in sound engineering, said to be the closest to achieving absolute sound proofing by the industry at that time. Four hundred tons of steel and more than 1200 cubic yards of concrete were used in the construction of each stage. Stage 6’s elegantly simple façade featured a flat roof-line, Art Deco/ZigZag Moderne motifs, which were in fashion at the time of its construction, and five concrete pilasters extending horizontally along each elevation in a Moderne ornamentation.

This detail shows the Art Deco motif that still graces the exterior of Stage 6.

MGM's Main Street in 1944, with Stage 6 and the famous MGM sign towering over the lot.