This year is the 80th birthday of the studio that is unarguably at the very centre of British film: Pinewood.
Cinema icons adored by millions have played out unforgettable scenes here, from James Bond to Superman, Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter.
The first film, a musical called ‘London Melody’ was completed at the 156-acre estate in 1937. London Melody was the first in a long line of hit musicals to be made at Pinewood including Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Fiddler on the Roof and Les Miserables.
Pinewood is best associated with the action exploits of spy supreme 007. Sean Connery’s debut as Bond in 1962’s Dr No was filmed there. The 5,490 square foot 007 stage was built in 1976 for Roger Moore’s Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me to house a huge water tank. This water tank was also used in Mamma Mia! and Pirates of the Caribbean. The studio is still home to the Bond franchise, most recently hosting Daniel Craig in 2012’s Skyfall and the 24th instalment Spectre due out later this year.
The studio also helped making a star of Norman Wisdom and Pinewood’s 31 low-budget Carry On films have become a national institution.
With the age of the blockbuster, Pinewood cemented its reputation for building sets that recreate any part of the world – and even out of this world. It was the venue for the 1963 epic Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, although production later moved to Rome because the unpredictable British weather ravaged the outdoor sets. The discarded props were used in Carry on Cleo. Most recently, the studio has helped breathe new life into Star Wars, making sets for Episode VII- The Force Awakens after the director JJ Abrams decided to move the series away from heavy use of CGI technology. Here’s to 80 more years of British film making! Happy birthday Pinewood!