Lights, Camera, Swindon!

By Swindon Link - 2 July 2018


In some of the most exciting movie news since James Bond arrived in Swindon, North Star Village have announced plans to open a massive IMAX screen as part of the new £270m leisure complex. And this is no ordinary IMAX screen; it will be the biggest in Europe, eclipsing the current record holder, the massive BFI IMAX, which stands at an eye-popping 26m x 20m, or 520m2.

(caption: Europe’s largest IMAX screen is coming to Swindon)

The IMAX and the 12 other screens at the new Empire Cinema will cement Swindon’s place in the film Hall of Fame as the town with the most cinema screens per person in Britain (which means you shouldn’t have to queue around the block for the latest blockbuster). North Star Village will also have a bowling alley and a 180,000 sq. ft. Snowcentre, although there is no space designated for Swindon’s much-talked-about new casino.

Of course, when you think of the movies, you probably think of Hollywood or Cannes, or big cities like London and New York. But without Swindon, the silver screen would be without its greatest sounds, as well as some of its most memorable stars and scenes.

Dolby, the number one name in cinema sound, has its headquarters in the town, which includes its own private luxury cinema where the company can show off its latest technology to the great and the good. It may not always be announced, but Dolby’s presence in the town has attracted more top-name directors and producers over the years than the swankiest Hollywood parties.

Swindon also does well when it comes to attracting location hunters. The town may not quite be a double for casinos like the Monte Carlo in the Bond movies, but local locations were featured in both A View to a Kill and The World is Not Enough. Saint-turned-secret-agent Roger Moore fought his way around the Renault Building, while Pierce Brosnan’s Bond preferred the more high-tech surroundings of Groundwell’s Motorola Factory.

(Caption: Pierce Brosnan, born to be Bond)

While several versions of George Orwell’s classic dystopian novel 1984have been made for screens big and small, few would argue that the definitive version is the one shot in Swindon at RAF Hullavington. Home-grown British actors Richard Burton and John Hurt starred in the powerful thriller, which was filmed, appropriately, in 1984.

For true home-grown talent from Swindon itself, you have to go back a little further to the 1950s when local lass, Diana Dors, made the headlines on a regular basis. With salacious movie titles such as The Weak and the Wickedand Yield to the Night, she built a reputation as Britain’s own Marilyn Monroe—although she never quite achieved the fame, or the lasting legendary status, of her Hollywood look-alike.

Today, the closest thing to Hollywood that the town can boast is former resident David Yates. After shepherding the final four Harry Potter films to completion, the director has continued his work in the wizarding world with the Fantastic Beasts series, including the latest episode, The Crimes of Grindlewald, which is due out later this year.

(Caption: David Yates with Fantastic Beasts star Katherine Waterson)

Yates’s first ‘Beasts’ film was a monster hit, taking in over $800m worldwide (although that was small change compared to the $1.34 bn raked in by his final Harry Potter adventure). With the franchise now established, experts are predicting big things for the new movie. And what better way to enjoy the massive new IMAX screen at North Star Village than by viewing one of the biggest films of the year?

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