The Church of Scientology has unveiled a massive new $50 million Scientology Media Productions movie and media studio complex on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, where church leaders plan to spread their message to an even larger audience around the world.
“We’re now going to be writing our story like no other religion in history. And it’s all going to happen right here from Scientology Media Productions,” Scientology leader David Miscavige said at the May 28 groundbreaking event.
Miscavige says the media complex is meant to advance the church’s message in an unfiltered and unadulterated way.
“Such has been our quest,” he said. “And why this facility represents the final component of an interlocking system for our global Scientology communications.”
“The average young adult spends 10 hours of every day on the Internet, and someone searches for ‘the meaning of life’ every five seconds, while someone else searches for answers about ‘spirituality’ six times per second,” Miscavige said, adding that the new production studio “will harness the power of every social media outlet imaginable to provide those answers.”
The Church of Scientology purchased its new studio for a reported $45 million in April 2011 from non-commercial educational television station KCET.
The church completely restored the facility, furnishing it with state-of-the-art digital media capabilities.
KCET was the original studio where the church’s founder, science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, was asked to write screenplays for some of the greatest films of the 20th century, including The Secret of Treasure Island.
However, several former Church members have criticized the new production initiative, including Mike Rinder, who featured prominently in last year’s Alex Gibney-directed Scientology exposé Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.
Rinder believes his former church’s new media complex will be larger than the Paramount Pictures studio in Hollywood, but says it will serve as nothing more than a big shiny building that is part of a more elaborate scheme for the church to raise money for itself.
“This is Scientology’s version of a cross between Paramount and Disneyland,” Rinder said according to the Daily Mail. “The idea of this thing is not just feature movies, but TV ads, informational videos, TV programs. This is their platform to make their break in Hollywood.”
Scientology counts numerous celebrities among its adherents, including Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley.
“They don’t need this new base, so the question becomes why?” Rinder says. “It’s just a fundraising ploy, to buy real estate, to persuade people to give them money, and if they can come up with the concoction that this is the next great thing to tell the world about Scientology, then all the better.”
“There’s ten of millions now being spent, but it will be just another empty building,” he added. “It doesn’t matter what goes on there, it makes it look like they’re expanding, so [followers will think] they must be doing well.”