Tower of London in Muppets Most Wanted
Date posted: 01.03.2014
Those loveable Muppets are back, and this time they're coming to London. Written by James Bobin and Nicholas Stoller (Gulliver's Travels), the adventurous crime caper Muppets Most Wanted takes everyone's favourite puppets on a tour of Europe - including the capital's unmissable tourist attraction, the Tower of London.
Featuring comedic genius of the likes of Tina Fey (Date Night, Mean Girls) and Ricky Gervais (Night at the Museum, Extras), the film revels in the humour and musical numbers that the Muppets are known for.
Fresh from their successful return to show business in 2011's The Muppets, the film takes Kermit and friends on a world tour. The sold-out Europe leg takes in cities including Berlin, Dublin, Madrid and, of course, London.
The plot might take the Muppets around Europe but most of the filming actually took place in London. iThe historic capitals were reconstructed at Pinewood Studios and at locations across the city, including Wilton's Music Hall, Tower Bridge, Rivoli Ballroom and Senate House among many, many others.
But the first port of call for Location Manager Ali James was the Tower of London: "[It] was the first job I undertook when I started work on the Muppets in October 2012, as the Tower is a significant part of the story".
Luckily, James says, the "team were not only very helpful from the start; but along with the rest of most of our locations, they were massive Muppet fans!"
And Cat Steventon from the Tower of London confirms their enthusiasm: "When Ali James first approached us about filming for Muppets Most Wanted we were excited to see if we could make it work"
Although organising shoots at such a popular tourist attraction can be difficult, Cat and her team "prioritise filming where the Tower features in the script" - and Muppets Most Wanted fitted the bill.
Filming in a public space
The Tower of London is one of the most visited sites in the capital so closing for filming is not an option. Instead, detailed and exhaustive preparations were made to minimise disruption to the public. "The filming took around 6-8months in the planning from first visit to the shoot" says Steventon, but "the crew were on site for actual filming for about two-three days".
"It was the largest film to shoot at the Tower in recent years, from crew size to supporting artists used", Steventon continues. But with filming days scheduled on quieter days, and additional shots organised at night, the location was able to accommodate production.
Cooperation and communication with both the staff and public were key to generating smooth filming transitions. "The more information you can provide the public when we shoot in public locations the better", James explains, "as most people are genuinely very interested, and it saves our security team answering the same questions about 1000 times a day!"
"In conjunction with the Tower we made up very informative notices", she adds, but "there were a lot of school children who visited that day and [still] did not realise they were walking straight past Kermit or Fozzie Bear."
James credits the Tower staff, as well as the production's wardens and location marshalls, with the smooth running of the shoot, saying that they had "a very positive and proactive approach to our requests", ensuring that the security and logistical aspects were fulfilled. "I would love to shoot at the Tower again!"
Areas of filming
The Tower of London offers a vast array of filming options and the team behind The Muppets Most Wanted made the most, using:
- Private entrance road: this was closed to shoot a big arrival scene, involving a large crowd
- The White Tower: offering a unique rooftop view of London, this was used extensively, including for an unforgettable scene in which Miss Piggy performs a power ballad on the battlements, a moment James describes as a "career high"
- Interiors: the contemporary nature of the script meant that more recent additions to the Tower did not need altering
Steventon was very happy with the way the production worked, saying "Ali [James] and her team were fantastic and completely understood the unique nature of filming at the Tower and how to make it work".
She welcomes the prospect of any filming in future, highlighting that as the Historical Royal Palaces is a charity, high profile filming such as this has positive long term effects. Not only does it reach a wide audience, Steventon says, but "the income earned from filming enables us to undertake valuable conservation and learning initiatives across the palaces we care for."
About the Tower of London
Founded by William the Conqueror in 1066-67 and enlarged and modified by successive sovereigns, the Tower of London is one of the world's most famous and spectacular fortresses.
Other productions to have shot in the iconic Tower of London include Sherlock Homes, A Game of Shadows; The Great Ghost Rescue and the Dr Who Christmas Special 2013.
For filming at the Tower of London, please contact:
T: 020 3166 6302 | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Muppets Most Wanted is released nationwide on 28 March, distributed by Disney