An army of trucks and cameras rolled into Ambleside and Windermere as film crews took over the South Lakes at the start of April. Their arrival marked a new Columbia Pictures live action/CGI feature adaptation based on Beatrix Potter’s classic character, Peter Rabbit. Scenes for the film were shot at the Ambleside Toy Shop on Compston Road, which was adapted into Mr. McGregor’s (played by Domhnall Gleeson) Toy Shop – Peter’s (voiced by James Corden) long-time adversary. More shooting was scheduled to take place on the High Street in Windermere. An all-star cast is set to include the voices of a number of other Hollywood A-Listers, from the Aussie pair Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad) and Rose Byrne (X Men: Apocalypse) to London born Daisy Ridley (Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens). The film which had been two years in development began live-action production in January 2017, with various location shoots around Sydney, Australia. These included Fox Studios, Centennial Park and Central railway station. However, shooting on location in the Lake District marks a return to the area where the iconic children’s author created many of her ‘little books’. The production is a collaboration with Animal Logic, one of the world’s most creative digital studios who boast an impressive CV of animated films including: Happy Feet and Academy Award nominee, The LEGO® Movie. Director and producer Will Gluck (Annie, Friends with Benefits), said ““I am delighted to be teaming up with Frederick Warne (Beatrix Potter’s publisher since 1902). Their expertise and stewardship is absolutely critical to making a film that honors the legacy of Beatrix Potter.”
Peter Rabbit is due to be released in March 2018, just over ten years on from the huge international success of Chris Noonan’s 2006 film Miss Potter. A film (starring Renée Zellweger as Beatrix and Ewan McGregor as Norman Warne) which undoubtedly showcased the beauty of the Lake District, seeing visitors flock back to the area after the tragedy of foot and mouth.
The enduring success of films like Miss Potter clearly helps to attract visitors the world over to both her former home Hill Top and the Lake District as a whole. Rachel Tyson, Head of Marketing and Sales at Cumbria Tourism outlined the potential of the new Peter Rabbit movie: “We look forward to the positive impact the film will have on the local economy and we hope to see an increase in bookings and trade across the county.”
Other projects in the area currently in production include the BBC’s family TV drama, The A Word which has been using the Village Hall in Grasmere to shoot scenes for a second series. But perhaps the most intriguing development surrounds the story first muted in the local Westmorland Gazette paper just over a month ago. Although the source has remained tight-lipped over which Hollywood ‘Blockbuster’ is due to film in the Lakes! However, doing a little digging and reading in-between the lines, there are certainly some big clues as to which movie it could be. My ‘spit-spot’ tip features in the clip below, and remember where you heard it first!
An A-Z of Cumbria & the Lake District on Film is available from Hayloft Publishing Ltd. & at various bookshops in Cumbria – please click here for details…