The Revival Of Ealing Studios
Sep 7, 2007 by Brad Horowitz
Ealing Studios which was once one of the most loved names in the history of British cinema is now being run by a new generation of film makers that are making comedies that they hope will attract a global audience and garner major box office receipts.
The film producer and head of Ealing Studios, Barnaby Thompson's film “St. Trinian's” is the latest chapter in the tale of the naughtiest girl’s school in fiction.
It's a £7m production which stars Rupert Everett and Colin Firth and he hopes it will resurrect interest in his studio and put Ealing back on the global film map.
In the 1940s and 1950s the legendary producer Sir Michael Balcon made a string of comedy film hits at Ealing which included the classics "Kind Hearts and Coronets", "Whisky Galore", "Passport to Pimlico" and the Oscar-winning "Lavender Hill Mob" and the studios won international acclaim.
Somewhat sadly, in spite of “Ealing's” international success the growing popularity of television made the film business increasingly more difficult and in 1959 the Studios were sold to the B.B.C.
In 2000 Barnaby Thompson led a consortium that wanted to create a modern studio business model that could withstand the boom and bust nature of the industry and they brought the studios back from the B.B.C. and invested millions in modernising the soundstages and production facilities.
The films that a studio produces are critical to its success and Barnaby made a strong start with a remake of "The Importance of Being Earnest" (2002) and Britain's first computer generated animation film, "Valiant" (2003).
However more recent productions like "Alien Autopsy" (2005) and its most recent release "I Want Candy" (2007) performed poorly at the box office and the critics condemned it.
Barnaby Thompson said, "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”.
Many of the rights to the film have already be pre-sold to 41 countries around the world and cover around a quarter of the film's £7 million budget.
However it won't be until December 2007 when “St. Trinian's” goes on release in the U.K. that Barnaby and the rest of his team will know if their dream of recreating Ealing's golden days has become a reality or was merely a daydream.