The co-founder of The Creative District Improvement Company - a $600 million fund aimed at U.K. studios that launched just days before film and TV production shut down – explains why it is moving ahead.
On March 2, just days before the new James Bond film No Time To Die was pushed back until November, kicking the first domino piece on two weeks in which Hollywood and much of the world's film and TV industries effectively shut down as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, a new fund aimed at investing in U.K. studios was formally unveiled.
Overseen by urban regeneration firm The Creative District Improvement TCDC Company and valued at some £500 million then $640 million, now $600 million due to the fall in the value of the pound, the fund was to invest in a network of film and TV studios across the U.K. — some new builds and some existing — and capitalize on the country's dramatic boom in production, which hit a record $4.7 billion in 2019, and its shortage of facilities.
As part of the announcement, TCDC Co. unveiled its $50 million acquisition of London's iconic Twickenham Studios, home to much Hollywood post-production and an Oscar winner in 2019 thanks to its sound work on Bohemian Rhapsody. The money is scheduled to be used to expand the site and add more stages and workspaces.
Then the COVID-19 crisis struck, and one-by-one film and TV productions across the U.K. — from big-budget features, such as The Batman and Jurassic World: Dominium to major TV projects, such as Netflix series The Witcher, and long-running British soaps — were all closed down. Work at Twickenham — like all facilities — was put on hiatus.
When studio doors can open again, nobody can say for sure. But just three weeks after its formal announcement, and amid a constant stream of news reports about mass layoffs and continued industry upheaval, TCDC Co. on March 23 announced another investment. This time, it was a $290 million development, including four studios, to be built on 22,000 square meters of land on a former locomotive factory in Ashford, Kent, just over 30 minutes from London by high-speed rail link and boasting a Eurostar station connecting it with Amsterdam, the home of Netflix's European headquarters.
Announcing such a major investment amid a global pandemic — and in an industry facing its biggest crisis in history — might appear unorthodox, but the team behind TDCD Co. is bullish about its prospects and why the current situation should have little or no impact on the future.
"I think one has to look across the valley, that's a term we're using a lot," says Jeremy Rainbird, who helped launch Sharon Horgan's label Merman and set up the fund with real estate developer Piers Read, producer of hit Brit comedies The Inbetweeners and Peep Show. "Yes, we're going to go deeper...
Edgar Wright isn’t just the director of comedy treasures like Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. He’s also an educated cinephile and comedy connoisseur with a deep knowledge of the biggest and best laughs ranging from classics in Hollywood’s Golden Age to contemporary hits. Since many of you are probably looking for a lot more movies to pass the time while we’re in self-quarantine from coronavirus, Edgar Wright has listed his 100 favorite comedies of all-time on Letterboxd, giving you some gut-busting options to seek out from home.
Edgar Wright introduced his list by writing this on Letterboxd:
“To get you through these tough times, please enjoy a generous helping of SOME of my favourite screen comedies that I’ve enjoyed over the years. I could easily do another 100 so don’t say ‘Where’s so and so?’ Just sit back and enjoy the movies. Let us know below, which ones you raise a smile.”
Edgar Wright lists his favorite comedies in the order in which they were releases, and he starts with some comedy staples from comedy legends like The Gold Rush, The Circus, and City Lights with Charlie Chaplin, as well as The Music Box and Sons of the Desert starring famed comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.
A couple decades later, Wright lists a couple of Jack Lemmon’s greatest comedies, Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis, and The Apartment with Shirley MacLaine. You’ll also find 1960s comedies like Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and the Best Picture nominee The Graduate.
Flash forward to the 1970s, and we get some love for the beloved comedies of Mel Brooks and Monty Python. From Brooks we have Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein, and from the British comedy troupe we have Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Life of Brian.
The 1980s brings the spoof comedy of Airplane!, Top Secret! and The Naked Gun from parody masters Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker. Plus, John Hughes gets some love for Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
There’s a handful of Christopher Guest here spread across the 1980s and 1990s with This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show making the list.
As for contemporary comedy favorites, Edgar Wright is certainly picky. There are only 21 comedies from the past 20 years on the list. However, I’m happy to see What We Do in the Shadows, They Came Together, and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping make the list, three of my favorite comedies of the decade, two of which made /Film’s collective list of the best films of the decade.
As for the most recent entry, it’s One Cut of the Dead. That makes perfect sense since the Japanese comedy from writer/director Shin’ichirô Ueda was...