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Pinewood Studios

Coordinates: 51°32′55″N 0°32′06″W / 51.548611°N 0.535°W / 51.548611; -0.535
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Pinewood Studios
Pinewood Studios gateway
General information
LocationIver, England
AddressPinewood Road,
SL0 0NH[1]
Coordinates51°32′55″N 0°32′06″W / 51.548611°N 0.535°W / 51.548611; -0.535
Opening30 September 1936[2]
OwnerPinewood Group (2001–present)
Pinewood Studios

Pinewood Studios is a British film and television studio located in the village of Iver Heath, England. It is approximately 18 miles (29 km) west of central London.[3][4]

The studio has been the base for many productions over the years from large-scale films to television programmes, commercials, and pop promos, including the James Bond and Carry On film franchises.


Pinewood Studios was built on the estate of Heatherden Hall, a large Victorian country house which was purchased by Canadian financier, and Member of Parliament (MP) for Brentford and Chiswick, Lt. Col. Grant Morden (1880–1932). He added refinements such as a ballroom, a Victorian-style Turkish bath, and an indoor squash court. Due to its seclusion, it was used as a discreet meeting place for high-ranking politicians and diplomats; the agreement to create the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed there.

In 1934, building tycoon Charles Boot (1874–1945) bought the land and turned it into a country club. The ballroom was converted into a restaurant and many of the bedrooms became furnished suites.


In 1935, millionaire flour magnate J. Arthur Rank (1888–1972) went into partnership with Boot and they transformed the estate into a film studio. Boot based designs for the studio complex on the latest ideas being employed by film studios in Hollywood, California. Boot named the new studio Pinewood because "of the number of trees which grow there and because it seemed to suggest something of the American film centre in its second syllable". Construction began in December of that year, with a new stage completed every three weeks. The studios were finished nine months later, having cost £1 million (approx. £85.8 million at 2019 prices). Five stages were initially completed and there was provision for an enclosed water tank capable of holding 65,000 imperial gallons (300,000 L), which is still in use. In the years that followed, he also undertook further work on both the Pinewood Film Studios and the Denham Film Studios, both of which had by then become a part of the newly-formed Rank Organisation.

On 30 September 1936, the studio complex was officially opened[5] by Dr Leslie Burgin, Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. The first film director to use the facilities was Herbert Wilcox, completing London Melody (1937) featuring Anna Neagle (his wife), portions of which had already been filmed at British and Dominions Imperial Studios in Elstree, before a fire there halted production. The first film to be made entirely at Pinewood was Talk of the Devil (1936), directed by Carol Reed.

There followed a prolific period of Pinewood and British film history, with Pinewood following the studios adopting the "unit system", an American industry practice. That enabled several pictures to be filmed simultaneously and, ultimately, Pinewood achieved the highest output of any studio in the world.[6]


During the Second World War, Pinewood was requisitioned, and the Crown Film Unit, No. 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit, Royal Air Force Film Production Unit, and Polish Air Force Film Unit were based there. The Crown Film Unit completed many classic wartime documentaries, and Roy Boulting's Desert Victory, Humphrey Jennings' Fires Were Started, Coastal Command and Pat Jackson's Western Approaches (all 1943) were filmed there during that period. As well its use by the armed forces, the Royal Mint and Lloyd's of London were installed on sound stages at Pinewood, and were open for business for the duration of the war.

The Company of Youth, the Rank Organisation acting school, which launched several film careers, was founded in 1945. The next year, Pinewood re-opened for (non-war-related) business.[citation needed]

Two significant films produced at Pinewood were released within two months of each other in 1948: Oliver Twist, directed by David Lean, and Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes. Due to a shortfall in funds, brought about by financial overspends the previous year, Rank did not have enough money to market The Red Shoes sufficiently at first in the US, but it became Rank's biggest earner up to that point, grossing over £1 million by 1951 (the equivalent of £28.9 million in 2019 terms).[7]

In the same year, John Davis was appointed managing director.[8] By the following year, Rank had run up an overdraft of £16 million[9] (the equivalent of £506 million in 2019), and announced a loss of £3.5 million,[10] mainly due to big budget flops. One of the largest of these had been Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), which was originally budgeted at £250,000, but which eventually cost £1,278,000 (the equivalent of £49.8 million in 2019).[7]


The Doctor film series, produced by Betty Box and directed by Ralph Thomas, began with Doctor in the House (1954), the most successful film at the box-office of its year in Great Britain. All of the Doctor films, running until 1970, were shot at Pinewood. The Carry On franchise began in 1958, produced on behalf of Rank by Peter Rogers (who was married to Box), and directed by Gerald Thomas (brother of Ralph). The Norman Wisdom comedies, the last of which was released in 1966, were also filmed at the facility.[11]


Goldfinger Avenue

During the 1960s Pinewood was no longer solely dependent on the Rank Organisation to fill its stages. "Renters" (producers hiring the sound stages for a film-by-film agreement) were using half of the stages as Pinewood turned into a four walls facility.[12] The James Bond franchise began at Pinewood with the Terence Young directed Dr. No (1962), and has continued to be based at the studios since then.

J. Arthur Rank (by then Lord Rank) retired as chairman in 1962 and was succeeded by John Davis, who had begun to move the Rank Organisation away from mass film production and towards more profitable and less risky businesses such as bingo and holidays.[citation needed]


During the 1970s Pinewood studios were being used more for television programmes, including ITC Entertainment's UFO (1970), The Persuaders! (1971), starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore, Space: 1999 (1975–1977), and Superman.


Four James Bond movies, For Your Eyes Only; Octopussy; A View to a Kill and The Living Daylights, among several other large productions, such as Aliens, Krull, and Tim Burton's Batman, were all produced at Pinewood. [13]


The 1990s saw large-scale productions, such as Alien 3, Tim Burton's Batman Returns and three further Bond films, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough produced at the studios which kept Pinewood operating.[citation needed] Swear It Again, the debut music video of the first single by Irish pop vocal band Westlife, was shot at the studios in 1999.[citation needed]


The Rank Group owned the studio until 2001, when it sold Pinewood for £62 million to a group led by Michael Grade and Ivan Dunleavy and financed by private equity group 3i, who held an 80% stake.[14] The purchase of Shepperton Studios from a consortium headed by Ridley and Tony Scott, gave rise to the Pinewood Group, eventually comprising Pinewood Studios, Shepperton Studios, Teddington Studios, Pinewood Toronto Studios, Pinewood Indomina Studios, Pinewood Studio Berlin, Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios, and a joint venture in the US with Pinewood Atlanta Studios.[15]

In 2009, Pinewood and Shepperton received a BAFTA Award for their Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema.[16]


The Pinewood Studios Group was subject to a hostile takeover approach in 2011. Manchester-based The Peel Group acquired a 73% stake, but Warren James Jewellers retained a 27% stake, so preventing a full takeover. In 2012 Financial Services Authority considered cancelling the stock market listing because nearly all the shares are held by two groups.[17] In June 2016, five new stages and 10 new workshops were opened at Pinewood.[15]

In 2019 The Walt Disney Studios announced a 10-year lease of most of the Pinewood Studios in September 2019, to start in 2020.[18]

Stages, studios and locations[edit]

The 007 stage at Pinewood Studios in March 2006, before the July fire and rebuilding

The 007 Stage was originally built for the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and featured one of the largest water tanks in Europe.[19] The stage was destroyed by fire in 1984; it was rebuilt four months later and renamed Albert R. Broccoli's 007 Stage in time for filming to commence on A View to a Kill.[20] Another fire on 30 July 2006 seriously damaged the stage, causing the roof to partly collapse.[21][22] Construction of a new stage began on 18 September and was completed in under six months.[23] Since then, the stage has accommodated large productions including Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), Quantum of Solace (2008). The whole fishing village from Mamma Mia! (2008) was built on the stage.

As well as the 007 Stage, which is the largest stage at any of the studios under The Pinewood Studios Group at 5,500 m2 (59,202 sq ft), the studio has fifteen other stages ranging from just 160 m2 (1,722 sq ft), to cater for productions of all sizes. One of those studios, the T Stage, is a specialist stage for both television and film productions and the Studios second largest stage at 2,800 m2 (30,139 sq ft).[24]

Pinewood Studios paid tribute to Richard Attenborough's body of work by naming a purpose-built film and television stage after him. The Richard Attenborough Stage has an area of 2,800 m2 (30,139 sq ft). In his absence because of illness, Lord Puttnam and Pinewood chairman Lord Grade officially unveiled the stage on 23 April 2012.[25] Opposite it, is a post-production block named in honour of Stanley Kubrick.[26]

The studio also has two specialist TV studios, named TV One and TV Two, complete with integral galleries, TV studio floors, TV lighting grids and SD or HD facilities. Both studios stand at just under 835 m2 (8,988 sq ft).

Pinewood is situated on the old estate of Heatherden Hall which still stands today. The mansion, its gardens and other parts of the studios have been used in various productions over the years. Peeping Tom (1960) shows people driving out through the main gate and has various shots in the studios (showing things behind the camera), offices and corridors.[citation needed] Return to the Edge of the World (1978) includes shots of director Michael Powell driving into the studio.[citation needed] The main gate (no longer used due to the construction of a purpose-built security entrance 500 m (1,600 ft) further along the road) also features in My Week with Marilyn (2011) when Eddie Redmayne greets Judi Dench.[citation needed] This film also contains many shots of the dressing-room corridors in the main make-up block. Heatherden Hall (converted to production offices) has appeared in several films: it was made to look fire-damaged and derelict for the children's film The Amazing Mr Blunden (1972) and also appeared as the Indian residence of Governor Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond in Carry On Up the Khyber (1969).[citation needed]

The studios have acres of backlots where large sets have been built, from castles to whole villages including the Baker Street set built for Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and Godric's Hollow from the Harry Potter film series.[citation needed]

Burnham Beeches and Black Park[edit]

The proximity of the ancient woodland Burnham Beeches and Black Park to Pinewood (as well as to Shepperton and Bray studios) made Burnham Beeches a desirable filming location for productions being filmed at Pinewood. Burnham Beeches was used for Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, First Knight, Goldfinger, The Princess Bride and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Fahrenheit 451 at Black Park.[citation needed]


Pinewood Atlanta Studios[edit]

The studios announced in April 2013 that its first film production facility in the United States would be located south of Atlanta at a complex consisting of 280 ha (690 acres) in Fayette County, Georgia. Pinewood Atlanta is a joint venture between Pinewood and River's Rock LLC, an independently managed trust of the Cathy family, founders of the Chick-fil-A fast-food chain.[27]

In August 2019, Pinewood sold their shares in the Atlanta location.[28] The studio officially ended its relationship with the location in October 2020 with the renaming of the studio to Trilith.[29]

Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios[edit]

Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios is a studio complex located at a 20 ha (49 acres) site in Iskandar Puteri, Johor, managed by The Pinewood Studios Group. It targets the Asia-Pacific region. Pinewood Shepperton plc entered into a strategic agreement with Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the investment holding arm of the Government of Malaysia in connection with the development of a new film and television studio facility in Iskandar Malaysia.[citation needed]

Construction began towards the end of 2010, with completion expected by the end of 2012. The facilities being built as part of the studio complex include 9,300 m2 (100,000 sq ft) of film stages, ranging from 1,400 m2 (15,000 sq ft) to 2,800 m2 (30,000 sq ft). The first two at 1,400 m2 (15,000 sq ft) while the other two at 1,900 m2 (20,000 sq ft). The biggest stage at 2,800 m2 (30,000 sq ft) will have a water tank for productions that require work on or under water.[1] There are 2 TV studios, each at 1,100 m2 (12,000 sq ft).[citation needed]

In July 2019, Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios was rebranded to Iskandar Malaysia Studios and the affiliation with Pinewood Shepperton plc ended.[30]

Water filming[edit]

Pinewood's water filming facilities include the Underwater Stage, and an Exterior Tank backed with a green screen measuring 73 m (240 ft)x18 m (59 ft).[31]

Project Pinewood[edit]

In November 2007, Pinewood announced a £200m expansion plan, known as Project Pinewood.[32] If would have included replicas of streetscapes and zones replicating locations from the UK, Europe and the USA. Planned zones include a college campus, Amsterdam, modern European housing, Venice, Lake Como, Paris, an Amphitheatre, Prague, West coast American housing, warehousing and downtown New York sets, Chicago, Vienna, a castle, a UK canal, Chinatown and a London street market built.[33] In addition it will also be used as residential housing, with the proposed creative community, expected to be in the region of 2000 and 2250, being integrated with the film locations.[33] Following consultations with the local community the plans changed to reflect the community's opinions and suggestions. However, the planning application was rejected by South Bucks District Council in October 2009, following a opposition campaign by local residents, who formed a "Stop Project Pinewood" group.[citation needed]

Pinewood appealed against the decision and a public inquiry commenced on 5 April 2011[34] and on 20 January 2012, it was announced that the appeal had been turned down.[35] On 15 May 2013, local councillors in South Buckinghamshire rejected a pared down version of the expansion plans. The Chief Executive of the studios, Ivan Dunleavy, said he expected to appeal against the latest decision to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, who rejected the previous application, a year earlier.[36] On 19 June 2014 it was reported that Pinewood Studios had received approval to go ahead with the multimillion-pound expansion plans which would see it rival Hollywood film sets.[37]

Enter the Pitch[edit]

Pinewood Studios is one of the sponsors for the short film competition "Enter the Pitch," also known as the Pitch, which launched in 2009. The Pitch is an online short film pitching competition that invites film makers to submit a project that takes inspiration from any story, character, or theme in the Bible.[38] The top ten finalists are invited to Pinewood Studios, where they pitch their film to a panel of industry professionals. The person giving the best pitch wins an apprenticeship with industry professionals and is mentored on how to turn their pitch into a short film.

The inaugural Pitch winner was Simeon Lumgair's Derelict (2009);[39] the most recent as of 2020 was Oneikeh Campbell's Five Thousand Stars (2020).[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pinewood Studios Address".
  2. ^ "Pinewood Studios Official Opening Date".
  3. ^ "BBC – Pinewood: 80 Years Of Movie Magic – Centre". BBC.
  4. ^ Andrew Pulver (30 June 2015). "Pinewood studios announce record revenue". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Patricia Warren British Film Studios: An Illustrated History, London: B.T. Batsford, 2001, p.119
  6. ^ "Pinewood Studio | Home of British Films". Britmovie. 30 September 1936. Archived from the original on 17 March 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  7. ^ a b Wood, Alan (23 February 1952). "The Inside Story of Mr. Rank". Everybody's Weekly. Retrieved 1 January 2008.
  8. ^ John Clement Obituary: Sir John Davis, The Independent, 1 July 1993
  9. ^ Patricia Warren British Fiklm Studios: An Illusrtrated History, London: B. T. Batsford, 2001, p.120
  10. ^ "Film Industry Slipping Out of the Big Money". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 1 January 1950. p. 7 Supplement: Features. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  11. ^ Dixon, Stephen (5 October 2010). "Sir Norman Wisdom obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  12. ^ Bloom Walden, Kiri (2013). British Film Studios. Shire Publications. pp. 47–48.
  13. ^ "Pinewood Group Credits". Retrieved 14 January 2024.
  14. ^ Dawtrey, Adam (28 February 2000). "Grade grabs Pinewood for $99 mil". Variety. p. 31.
  15. ^ a b "Our Heritage". Pinewood. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  16. ^ "Bafta honour for Pinewood studios". BBC News. 5 February 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  17. ^ "Peel takeover cost Pinewood £2.4m". How Do. 29 February 2012. Archived from the original on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2012.
  18. ^ Chu, Henry (8 September 2019). "Disney Inks Long-Term Deal to Occupy Most of Pinewood Studios". Variety. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  19. ^ Frayling, Christopher (2005). Ken Adam and the Art of Production Design. London/New York City: Macmillan Publishers. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-571-22057-1.
  20. ^ "This month in Bond History". Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
  21. ^ "Fire wrecks James Bond film stage". BBC News. 30 July 2006. Retrieved 30 July 2006.
  22. ^ "Bond film stage 'will be rebuilt'". BBC News. 31 July 2006. Retrieved 31 July 2006.
  23. ^ "007 Stage construction completed". Pinewood Studios. Archived from the original on 30 September 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2007.
  24. ^ "PLANS FOR A NEW 30,000 SQ FT STAGE AT PINEWOOD STUDIOS". The Pinewood Studios Group. Archived from the original on 27 November 2011. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  25. ^ "The Richard Attenborough Stage opens for business at Pinewood Studios". pinewoodgroup.com. 23 April 2012. Archived from the original on 28 April 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  26. ^ "Pinewood Studios Map". pinewoodgroup.com.
  27. ^ B. Goldsmith and David Beasley (29 April 2013). James Bond's UK film studio launches mission to the U.S. Reuters
  28. ^ Szalai, Georg (21 August 2019). "Pinewood Sells Stake in Atlanta Studios". The Hollywood Reporter.
  29. ^ Goldsmith, Jill (7 October 2020). "Pinewood Atlanta Rebrands As 'Trilith', Completes Separation From UK, Expands Studio & Adjacent Planned Community".
  30. ^ Clarke, Stewart (11 July 2019). "Pinewood Pulls Out of Iskandar Malaysia Studios Partnership".
  31. ^ "Water". Pinewood Studios. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
  32. ^ "Pinewood studios plan expansion". BBC. 15 November 2007.
  33. ^ a b "Project Pinewood press release" (PDF). 3 April 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 September 2008. Retrieved 23 September 2011.
  34. ^ "Project Pinewood Newsletter" (PDF). The Pinewood Studios Group. Retrieved 23 September 2011.[permanent dead link]
  35. ^ "£200m Project Pinewood plan refused by Government (From Bucks Free Press)". Bucksfreepress.co.uk. 20 January 2012. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  36. ^ "Pinewood Expansion Dashed Again". UKscreen.com. 15 May 2013. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  37. ^ "Pinewood Studios wins permission to double in size despite strong opposition". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  38. ^ "Enter the Pitch (press release)". BCF. Archived from the original on 7 October 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
  39. ^ "The Pitch 2009: Winner". enterthepitch.com. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  40. ^ "Oneikeh Campbell wins the Pitch 2020 fund". enterthepitch.com. Retrieved 11 April 2021.

Further reading[edit]

  • Perry, George (1976). Movies from the Mansion: A History of Pinewood Studios. London: Elm Tree Books. ISBN 0-241-10799-7.
  • Owen, Gareth (2006). The Pinewood Story. Richmond: Reynolds & Hearn. ISBN 978-1-905287-27-7.
  • Bright, Morris (2007). Pinewood Studios: 70 Years of Fabulous Filmmaking. London: Carroll & Brown. ISBN 978-1-904760-63-4.

External links[edit]