Tolkien biopic set to put Cheshire studios on the map

Nicholas Hoult, right, in a scene from the film

The biopic, Tolkien, is set to put Cheshire-based Tatton Studios in the spotlight when it hits the screen this Spring.

Studio bosses believe it can reinforce their reputation with TV and movie-makers as the ideal location for indoor, and outdoor shoots.

The much-anticipated movie, starring BAFTA-nominated actor Nicholas Hoult, tells the story of the author’s early years and how he came to create his iconic works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, with the first trailer landing this week.

Producers at Fox Searchlight handpicked Tatton Studios as one of their key locations, with war scenes being filmed on one of its 24-acre backlots and interior shots being filmed in its green screen studio.

The Studios, based in Altrincham, played host to a cast of 150 WWI soldiers, 30 cavalry horses and a 300-strong crew, which included a dedicated SFX team to manage activity such as night shooting and also construction experts, who spent three months building the battlefield.

The Tatton team also called on Ashley-based Location Buddha, who facilitated shooting at the studios, and Wainwright TV and Film Services to help build outdoor sets.

Charlie Greenstein, head of TV and film at Tatton Locations, said: “Having such a high-profile production on-site was a truly fantastic experience and helped cement our reputation as Manchester and Liverpool’s backlot.

“Thanks to our countryside setting, there’s enormous opportunity for film makers to think big and see us as a major player when looking at options for locations and studios.

“With Tolkien, our huge hardstanding car park and showground were perfect for the crew to set up a feature film production village, while Showground Four was used to recreate the Battle of the Somme.

“Our North Range workspace was transformed into a base for the costume department and Ashley Hall was used for a production office.”

Based on the family-owned Tatton Estate, and part of the Tatton Group, Tatton TV and Film manages the estate’s impressive portfolio of rural and historic locations on offer to film makers and producers, as well as many other locations across the UK.

Its studio complex at Ashley Hall boasts two large-build spaces, a 54ft green screen and 80 acres of showground, ideal for exterior set builds.

Recent productions include some of the UK’s most popular TV shows, such as Peaky Blinders, The Worst Witch, Curfew, Bancroft, Coronation Street and Hollyoaks, with Tolkien being Tatton TV and Films’ most ambitious project yet.

The movie, which also stars actress Lily Collins as the writer’s wife, Edith Bratt, will be released in the UK on May 10.

Filmed on-site between September 2017 and January 2018, it features a re-enactment of the Battle of the Somme, with producers staging massive explosions and bringing in stage rats to help bring the trenches to life.

Now, Charlie and her team are hoping that the movie’s release will help put Cheshire on the map as one of the country’s top choices for producers of future blockbusters.

She added: “This was our biggest production by far and it required a tremendous amount of forward planning to ensure we put our very best foot forward.

“We know we have a truly unique location to offer producers and we’re looking forward to welcoming future productions to our studios.”