Screen Rant has visited Shepperton Studios and its parent Pinewood Studios just outside of London, England on several occasion for films like 47 Ronin and Thor: The Dark World. Disney and Marvel Studios have a particular fondness for the UK-based production facilities, having shot Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor 2 and most recently, Guardians of the Galaxy there, and currently shooting Cinderella and planning to shoot Star Wars: Episode VII next year. Brit writer-director Edgar Wright was supposed to continue the trend by shooting Ant-Man there next year as well but that’s no longer the case.
Ant-Man is a strange property for Marvel, a young studio aiming to venture out into riskier projects by diving into some of the most obscure stories and characters in Marvel Comics. In fact, the only reason it’s even being adapted to film is because of Edgar Wright, who’s been attached to the project for a better part of a decade.
The film finally got an official release date last year for November 2015 and was recently pushed forward to July 2015, where it will release just two months after The Avengers: Age of Ultron. With its schedule now a tad more tight, shooting will begin next year, overlapping with production on The Avengers 2. Both films will shoot in the U.S..
We’ve heard from Marvel Studios President of Production Kevin Feige multiple times on the lengthy development time for Ant-Man, a film which was part of the very first Marvel Studios Comic-Con panel back in 2006, where director Edgar Wright actually appeared on stage. Ant-Man wasn’t ever a part of Marvel’s early strategy, launching a franchise beginning with Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, teasing the idea that one day they could come together with other heroes and form The Avengers on screen.
It was Wright’s creativity however, his personal passion for the Ant-Man character and his unique ideas and filming style that grabbed Feige and co.’s interest and so they began working on a script. The screenplay has been revised and revised over years now, and with the Cornetto Trilogy under his belt and the latest installment (The World’s End) seeing greater success than its predecessors, the timing is perfect. Marvel and The Avengers are bigger than ever and these brands can finally help put Wright’s “different” movie into action. Speaking with Fandango, Wright reiterates that Ant-Man – much like Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 and James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy – will be creator-driven and the director’s DNA will shine through.
“I like the challenge of doing something slightly different. I think there will be some elements of my previous movies in there, and I think that’s why Marvel wanted me to do it in the first place. I don’t think they hired me to do something completely anonymous. So it’s fun – it’s got lots of new elements. I’m excited about it.”
As for the business side of things, Ant-Man, as we said above, will no longer be shooting in Wright’s homeland. The Pinewood Studios Group and their aging studios, seeing record-breaking revenue this year, are simply at capacity and it’s a two-fold issue. On the one hand, the UK tax incentives are bringing some of the world’s biggest film productions and keeping them busy, but their plans to expand were denied. Deadline reports that their bids have been thwarted by the government because the expansion plans involve protected lands. In the meantime, they’ve converted warehouses to add more available square footage for stage work – one of these is where 24: Live Another Day is shooting.
Speaking with ScreenDaily for the home video release of The World’s End, Wright touched on the location change.
“Ironically, Ant Man was meant to shoot in London but London is full because I guess that Pinewood extension got turned down.”
“While the tax break is good for Hollywood films shooting here, it’s probably not that great for British films shooting in the UK. Some middle-to-low budget films are going to find themselves without crew because all the American films are shooting here.”
With the UK a hot spot for recent Hollywood and television activity, the worst thing for the Pinewood group is for them not to be able to take advantage and enhance their facilities to continue growth and keep bringing in the big projects. Losing Ant-Man may be an eye-opener during the appeal process.
As for the film itself, casting is currently underway with names including Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Paul Rudd earning the most rumor buzz as of late. From our chat with Kevin Feige, we can expect to hear more on the casting front relatively soon.
The project has been described as a “heist” film and Edgar Wright showcased concept footage at Comic-Con to give fans an idea of what sort of action sequences can be designed around the character’s size-changing abilities. Which Ant-Man characters from the books, what other abilities he may or may not have, and his potential future involvement with The Avengers all remain mysteries at this point.
Thor: The Dark World is currently in theaters, Captain America: The Winter Soldier releases on April 4, 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1, 2014, The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 31, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes for your Marvel movie news!