Prince Caspian Heads to Pinewood?

Walt Disney president Andy Bird reveals that filming for Prince Caspian is likely to occur at Pinewood Studios near London. See our earlier report on Prince Caspian location filming in New Zealand and the Czech Republic.

LATEST UPDATE: – The producer of the new Narnia film Prince Caspian says there’s been no change to New Zealand’s involvement in the project. New Zealander Tim Coddington says reports Disney has axed plans to make the sequel to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe here are wrong. He says he understands the role New Zealand will play in the film is still the same and details are expected this week.

The chief executive of Film New Zealand, Judith McCann, says the industry always knew the film’s entire production would not be based in New Zealand. – Pre-production work on the Chronicles of Narnia sequel – with a reported budget of $300 million – was already well under way in New Zealand. Weta Workshop was also reported to be doing the film’s special effects. The five-week shoot alone was understood to be worth at least $10 million to New Zealand’s industry.

Neither Adamson nor Prince Caspian’s producer, fellow Kiwi Tim Coddington, returned calls last night. However, one industry source said there was a possibility some minor location filming could still be done in New Zealand.

The film’s departure casts doubts on Walden Media’s future in New Zealand – it has made Waterhorse and Bridge to Terabithia here in the past year alone. The decision also highlights the increasing competition among countries trying to score studio shoots. New Zealand Screen Council executive director Tim Thorpe said the country had to lift its game if it did not want to be left behind with countries such as the United States, Australia and Canada all upping their offerings to studios through incentives and tax breaks. “We’re a small player, we have punched above our weight.”

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Times Online – Prince Caspian, the next film in the Narnia series, is set to be made at Britain’s Pinewood Studios. Andy Bird, the president of Walt Disney International, told an audience of television executives on Thursday that shooting would begin in February and that post-production would also take place in Britain.

The announcement is a coup for the British film industry and confirms the belief that Hollywood is being lured back to Britain on the back of the new tax incentives introduced by Gordon Brown.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was shot in New Zealand — which has established itself as a popular, low-cost filming location over the past few years. Prince Caspian’s backers had considered New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland as alternative locations for the film, although the story is set initially in wartime Britain, before the four Pevensie children return to Narnia a thousand years after the events in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Mr Bird, a Briton, said that the US media giant was determined to produce in Britain as part of its policy of localising its image by basing productions away from America. However, it is understood that the tax breaks available to overseas film-makers played an important role in the decision.

Those familiar with the project said that the revised tax regime was an incentive for Disney and Philip Anschutz’s Walden Media, the film’s other backer, to come to Britain, helping to revive a sector that had been in crisis as a result of the uncertainty that surrounded the scrapping of the previous tax rules.

A formal announcement confirming the decision to film in the UK has yet to be made, but the studio has already formally committed to undertaking special effects in the UK, the scale of which is enough alone to ensure that the film is the first major film to qualify for the break.

Mr Bird prefaced his comments at Thursday’s Royal Television Society Dinner by saying: “I don’t think we’ve announced this yet.” Pinewood Shepperton, the company behind the Pinewood studio, declined to comment.

Read the rest of the article at Times Online.