Figures released by the British Film Institute (BFI) on Thursday, 28 January, show that the UK’s film industry has reached new heights in the last year, with key studios such as Pinewood (the traditional home of 007), Shepperton, and Leavesden (which has also hosted Bond in the past), playing an instrumental role in this success.
This is good news for Bond no. 25, especially if EON choose to make Pinewood its main production base again. According to the BFI, which first began compiling this kind of statistical data back in 1994, two hundred films began shooting in Britain in 2016, helping to contribute a total spend of £1.6bn. This is a 13% rise from the previous year’s figures, and constitutes the highest number since 1994.
Adrian Wootton, who is Chief Executive of the film industry body the British Film Commission, told the UK’s media: ‘2016 was a banner year for the UK’s film and TV industries, which attracted record levels of inward investment and some of the world’s most ambitious productions. Our industry offers the complete package in terms of talent, skills, facilities, VFX expertise and competitive tax reliefs, so it’s no wonder international film and TV clients continue to make the UK their destination of choice’.
Wootton is also head of Film London, a special agency that seeks to attract key film investors to Britain’s capital city. The organisation has played a big role in helping major productions such Spectre make maximum use of London’s most familiar locations. In fact, London in recent years has become the third busiest film production hub in the world, after Los Angeles and New York. More generally, the expertise available across the British film industry has played a crucial part in attracting the Bond franchise to British studios such as Pinewood, and each new 007 movie generates a ‘ripple’ effect in terms of stimulating employment and additional inward investment.
Pinewood is Forever
Pinewood retains a major position among UK studios in both reputation and regular activity, especially when it comes to huge franchise films. Interestingly, some of the regular skilled production staff who have worked behind the scenes on the recent Daniel Craig James Bond movies have also worked on blockbusters such as the latest Batman, Superman and Star Wars productions, movies which have generated large amounts of valuable revenue for the UK’s economy. In 2014, for example, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot at Pinewood, some of the regular Bond crew gained employment on that production. Similarly, when the Star Wars spin-off Rogue One was made at Pinewood, Bond technicians also contributed their highly sought-after expertise. More recently, between February and July, 2016, when The Last Jedi took over virtually the whole of Pinewood, a number of skilled veterans of the Bond movies, such as carpenters, designers and model makers, also worked on the eagerly anticipated Disney movie, which is due for release at the end of 2017.
From Pinewood With Love
As many Bond fans will recall, Pinewood, located in the county of Buckinghamshire in Britain, announced in 2016 that, due to recent blockbusters such as the 24th James Bond movie Spectre and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, annual profits at the Pinewood Group had soared to a spectacular £13.6million.
The north London Studio is now hoping to also accommodate Bond 25 when it begins production, possibly in either late 2017 or (more likely) in 2018. The Pinewood Group recently overcame local opposition to expand its studios at the Pinewood site and win more film production work, and the first movie to be filmed using these newly expanded facilities was Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, which has been produced by Bond co-producer Barbara Broccoli, and stars Jamie Bell and Julie Walters. As the JBIFC has reported previously, strong supporters of the Pinewood expansion plan, including Skyfall and Spectre director Sam Mendes, have seen the newly expanded studio as offering a major boost to general movie studio facilities in the UK.
One of the most famous set designers to work at Pinewood in the 1960s and 1970s was, of course, Sir Ken Adam (1921-2016). His contribution to the ‘look’ of the Bond series was legendary. For the secret volcano crater base in the fifth 007 movie, You Only Live Twice (1967), for example, Albert R. Broccoli handed Ken Adam $1m (an astonishing sum at the time). The volcano set designed by the late Sir Ken, and constructed at Pinewood on the backlot, has become an iconic feature of Bond movie history.
Did You Know?
During the pre-production on Roger Moore’s third 007 adventure, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, Ken Adam had to warn Bond producer Cubby Broccoli – who was now producing the Bond movies on his own – that the sheer scale of the proposed new Bond adventure meant that no sound stage at Pinewood, or indeed in the world, could accommodate the huge sequences described in the new script.
Broccoli replied: ‘Then build it’. So they did! The resulting ‘007 Stage’ at Pinewood Studios became the largest soundstage in the world when it was finished.