January 2, 2017

Studios

Studio Photograph

Click for larger images. (Images courtesy of Al Samujh)

During the 1950′s Pinewood gave birth to the Carry On films, the Doctor series, and the Norman Wisdom comedies. The urgent demands now being made on the studios resources meant that major investment was necessary. 1962 saw the dawn of Pinewoods most famous enterprise; the James Bond franchise that began with the Terence Young directed Dr. No. In 1962, Lord Rank announced his intention to retire as chairman; he was to be succeeded by John Davis, who had consciously moved the Rank Organisation away from film production towards more profitable areas like bingo and holidays. The sixties were buoyant years for Pinewood, with more and more American pictures being shot there in the wake of Bond and Disney’s global success. Pinewood was no longer solely dependent on the Rank Organisation to fill its stages, now ‘renters’ were using half of the stages. The studios 30th birthday was celebrated in 1966, and worked had started on new stages to accommodate every aspect of film and television production, new viewing theatres, new cutting rooms and sophisticated stage lighting systems hitherto unused in Britain, were installed, and production offices and facilities enhanced.

The seventies were an uncertain period for Pinewood, and more television productions aimed at family entertainment were filmed there, including Gerry Anderson’s UFO and The Persuaders starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore. In March 1972, it was announced that J. Arthur Rank had died. His legacy lived on; the Rank Organisation was in a healthy state. Throughout the leans years of the 1970′s the Superman franchise almost certainly saved the studios from financial crisis. The 1990′s were precarious due to unfavourable UK tax laws, but many large-scale productions such as Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket and Tim Burton’s Batman kept Pinewood ticking over. 1987 brought a further blow to Pinewood’s status, faced with spiralling costs it was decided the studio would cease to be fully serviced and become a facility where filmmakers bring in their own labour and staff.

The early 1990s witnessed an all-time low in British film production but as the decade progressed Pinewood achieved a remarkable resurgence. Summer 1999 saw the inauguration of two huge new state-of-the-art sound stages as the first phase of Pinewood’s on-going expansion plans. As the new Millennium dawned, the Studios were acquired from The Rank Group PLC by a team led by media magnates Michael Grade and Ivan Dunleavy. Early in 2001, it was announced that Pinewood Studios and Shepperton Studios had successfully completed a merger, creating one of the largest and best-equipped facilities in the world. Renowned filmmakers Ridley and Tony Scott, co-owners of Shepperton, unite with Pinewood’s Grade and Dunleavy in managing the new company.

Studio Photograph

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