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Famous Film Locations In Essex

Thursday 09th November 2017

Last month saw huge commotion for residents of Brentwood when Tom Cruise was spotted filming in Thorndon Park. No, he isn’t the newest cast member of TOWIE but was filming scenes for the sixth instalment of the Mission Impossible franchise. Despite a closed set and police presence, tons of paparazzi swarmed to the park to snap a glimpse of the 55 year old actor in action.

The film is due to be released next year and of course, will be showing at The Harvey Centre’s Cineworld and to celebrate the frenzy Mr Cruise caused we decided to look back at other locations in our county that have become the backdrop for some of cinema’s most famous films.

Goldfinger,1964 – London Southend Airport,  Southend on Sea

This classic film starring Sean Connery in his iconic Bond role includes a scene with 007 in pursuit of villain Goldfinger’s Rolls Royce as he tries to escape to Geneva. Bond drives his Aston Martin DB5 into Southend Airport and takes it to Switzerland in order to pursue his nemesis. The scene was filmed in 1963.

Batman Begins, 2005 – Coalhouse Fort, East Tilbury

In the first of Christopher Nolan’s epic caped crusader franchise, Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne is in a Bhutanese prison where he encounters Liam Neeson’s Henri Ducard. The scenes were actually filmed in Essex’s historic Coalhouse Fort in East Tilbury. The fort was built in 1870 to protect London from French invaders.

Four Weddings and a Funeral, 1994 – St Clements Church, West Thurrock

During the funeral of larger than life character Gareth played by Simon Callow, those from Essex and Kent may remember spotting the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge in the backdrop of the burial scene. That is because the funeral was filmed at the beautiful St Clements Church in West Thurrock. Architecturally stunning, it is no wonder it was chosen for one of the biggest hit films of the nineties.

The Woman in Black, 2012 – Osea Island, River Blackwater

A young, recently widowed lawyer played by Daniel Radcliffe visits creepy Eel Marsh Island to put a deceased client’s affairs in order however it isn’t long before Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) senses the villagers are hiding a terrible secret.  The filming location for this successful thriller was in fact filmed on Osea Island which is located five miles off of Mersea Island.

World War Z, 2013 – Hanningfield Reservoir, East Hanningfield

Hanningfield Reservoir had a total makeover for this modern day zombie classic starring Brad Pitt and was transformed into a South Korean prison for the film. Filming took place there for two weeks in September 2011 and staff had to sign a confidentiality agreement beforehand to prevent them discussing what was going on while filming was taking place. The Reservoir is owned by Essex and Suffolk water and run alongside Essex Wildlife Trust. 

Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1988 – The State Cinema, Grays

This iconic Bob Hoskins film was revolutionary at the time because it was the first to combine both actors and animated characters together on screen. The State Cinema features in the scene where cartoon rabbit Roger, wrongfully accused of murder, draws too much attention to himself in a bar and both he and Private Investigator Eddie Valiant (Hoskins) are forced to hide in the cinema from evil Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd). The cinema’s art deco interior can be seen as well as their Compton organ at the front stage. The State cinema still stands today but is now unused, it was bought two years ago by JD Wetherspoons with plans to make the Grade II listed building into a pub.

Brannigan, 1975 – Tilbury Docks

This classic film about a Chicago detective sent to Britain to extradite an American mobster stars John Wayne in the principle role Police Lieutenant Jim Branningan, who struggles to accept the different policing style of the British and takes on his own method. Scenes from the film were shot at Tilbury Docks. This isn’t the docks only connection to Hollywood though as the high speed boat race from the 1989 movie ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ was filmed there and part of the docks were transformed into an area of Gotham City for ‘Batman Begins’.

It is pretty amazing how many Hollywood blockbusters have been filmed here and next time you decide to watch any of them, be sure to try and spot any familiar backgrounds now you know to look for them.

Last year Cineworld opened at The Harvey Centre so now the cold weather and darker nights have set in why not come down, grab a bite to eat and watch a film? After all, it is a bit of a wait before you can spot Tom Cruise on the big screen in an Essex field!

Full listing details for what is showing and upcoming can be found HERE.

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