LOS ANGELES — When “The Hangover Part III” wrapped production in January, Warner Bros. was left with tons of used plywood, joists, furniture, faux brick and other materials from the film set.
But instead of hauling the leftovers to the landfill, the studio donated the items — enough to fill 10 truckloads — to the charitable organization Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, to be sold in Habitat’s local stores. The proceeds supported the organization’s mission of building and renovating homes for the needy.
“The crews take pride in what they’ve built, so if we’re able to salvage the materials and give them another use, everyone feels good about that,” said Mike Slavich, director of sustainability for Warner Bros. Entertainment. The studio last month supplied Habitat’s stores with more than 30 rolls of carpet and linoleum flooring from the set of the CBS TV show “The Mentalist.”
Such donations from Warner and other studios have become a big source of revenue for Habitat’s ReStore outlets. The stores, open to the public, are a cross between Home Depot and Goodwill. They sell overstocked, used and discontinued building materials, appliances, furniture and other household items donated by local manufacturers, stores, contractors, film studios and TV producers of such shows as “The Big Bang Theory,” “2 Broke Girls” and “Mike & Molly.”
Habitat generated some $700,000 in revenue last year from merchandise donated by studios and film producers, making the entertainment industry one of the single largest sources of revenue for the Habitat stores.
It’s a mutually beneficial partnership.
While creating revenue for Habitat, studios also benefit by not having to pay fees to transport and dispose of the materials in landfills. Programs like Habitat’s also help studios improve their environmental image. Film sets traditionally have been notoriously wasteful, generating tons of set construction materials that ended up in landfills. But in the last decade studios have set up sustainability programs to reduce waste on productions, recycle more materials, and invest in low energy buildings and equipment.
“It’s very valuable to us,” said Frank Simpson, director of the property and wardrobe department at Sony Pictures Studios, the biggest donor to Habitat. “I might have three or four shows wrapping at the same time, and I have a limited amount of space. We need to get things out as quickly as we can. They are very good about getting here when we need them. They are providing a great service.”
Some of the more unusual items have included 5,000 pieces of Japanese pottery from the Steven Spielberg movie “Memoirs of a Geisha,” orange-neon colored desks from “Men in Black 3,” 200 doors from the long-running ABC series “Desperate Housewives” and several 5,000-gallon cisterns used in “Spider-Man.” (Habitat sent them to a charity in Mexico for a water project.)
Habitat this year received about 60 sheets of faux-brick wall used for a wine cellar set in “The Hangover Part III.” One customer bought 40 sheets for $25 each to use in a custom-made spa.
“It’s like a treasure hunt here,” said Dave McKechnie, vice president of Habitat’s retail operations. “You never know what’s going to show up.”