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  1. #1
    Member Country: UK
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    The revival of Ealing Studios

    By Ian Rose

    BBC Money Programme



    Ealing Studios was one of the most loved names in the history of cinema. Now a new generation of film makers are running the studio and making comedies they hope will attract a global audience and win major box office receipts.



    Film Producer and Head of Ealing Studios, Barnaby Thompson's latest film is a new chapter in the tale of the naughtiest girls' school in fiction: St Trinian's.



    It's a �7m production, starring Rupert Everett and Colin Firth which he hopes will resurrect interest in the St. Trinian's brand, his studio and put Ealing back on the global film map.



    There's a lot to live up to, as in the 1940s and 1950s legendary producer Sir Michael Balcon made a string of comedy film hits at Ealing.



    Classics including "Kind Hearts and Coronets", "Whisky Galore", "Passport to Pimlico" and the Oscar-winning "Lavender Hill Mob" ensured that Ealing studios represented a high water mark in British film making.



    Despite international success, the growing popularity of television made the film business increasingly more difficult and in 1959 the Studios were sold to the BBC.



    In 2000 Barnaby Thompson led a consortium that brought the studios back and invested millions in modernising the soundstages and production facilities.



    They wanted to create a modern studio business model that could withstand the boom-and-bust nature of the industry.



    To do this they have opened up other revenue sources by renting Ealing's facilities to other film makers, including Woody Allen and Gurinder Chadha - who is based on the site.



    Office space is rented out and there's also a comedy club and a film school based on site.



    But ultimately it's the films that the company is known for, and the success of St.Trinians is critical for its future. Barnaby made a strong start at Ealing with a remake of "The Importance of Being Earnest" (2002) and the UK's first computer generated animation film, "Valiant" (2003).



    But more recent productions, including Ant and Dec in "Alien Autopsy" (2005) and its most recent release "I Want Candy" (2007), performed poorly with both critics and at the box office.



    Barnaby Thompson says: "It's always disappointing when your films don't work because we're an industry that feeds off hits.



    "If "I want Candy" had done as well as I thought it was going to do we stood to make a lot of money out of it." The Ealing crew are hoping to bounce back with St. Trinian's.



    Despite its British subject, cast and sense of humour, the team believe its universal theme of "Girl Power" will help deliver a global hit.



    Are remakes a cynical cashing-in exercise?



    Putting on a good sales drive to international distributors at the 2007 Cannes Film festival is crucial to its commercial success.



    Natalie Brenner, Ealing's Head of Sales and James Spring, Managing Director of Ealing Studios put themselves through an exhausting fortnight of meetings.



    They attempted to get St Trinian's noticed alongside the big studios who were in town promoting blockbusters Oceans Thirteen and The Simpsons Movie.



    It sold rights to the film to be shown in 41 countries around the world and made back a quarter of the film's �7 million budget.



    But it won't be until December 2007, when St. Trinian's goes on release in the UK, that Barnaby and the rest of his team will know if the dream of re-creating Ealing's golden days has become a reality.



    The Money Programme: Once More With Ealing will be broadcast on BBC Two at 1900 BST on July 27th.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    I was in Ealing over the weekend an lo and behold just happened to walk past those famous studios!.........








  3. #3
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    Mark, you are fast becoming Britmovie's official photographer! Thanks again for some great pictures!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Country: Great Britain Mark O's Avatar
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    name='Joenoir']Mark, you are fast becoming Britmovie's official photographer! Thanks again for some great pictures!


    LOL!..........Thanks again Joenoir, some of the Ealing productions are amongst my fave films 'Pimlico, Titfield', etc; as I'm sure they are with most Britmovie members, at least I'm grateful to see that particular building hasn't been demolished as I had the impression that Ealing Green is a conservation area.

  5. #5
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    name='Mark O']I was in Ealing over the weekend an lo and behold just happened to walk past those famous studios!.........


    It is agreat shame that Barnaby Thompson never replies to e-mails, also I hope that the BBC do their research properly in July, they once told me I did not know my own antecedents (sic) - It took 6 months to get an apology out of them

  6. #6
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    My wife was doing a university project a couple of years ago and the Ealing people were extremely helpful to her. She got a guided tour and came away with various souvenirs of the visit.

    Last time I was there was during a BBC open day in 1989!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Country: England
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    Have just heard from Jonathan Balcon that The Red Lion Pub opposite the studios is being re-named 'The Sir Michael Balcon'.

    Film Man.

  8. #8
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    An excellent move. The country is already awash with Red Lion pubs

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