Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Production Materials:
The Pinewood Studios
Gotham City Set

UPDATE- Added alley reference and location clarification... Plus a marked aerial view from the "Beyond Batman" DVD special feature!

The Gotham City set from "Batman" still stands as one of the largest and most remarkable film sets ever created. In all, 18 sound stages were used in its creation- almost the entirety of Pinewood's 95-acre backlot. Its striking visual presence has never been surpassed in the eyes of many fans. With the current penchant for green-screen technology or affordable existing location shooting being the norm of current Hollywood, the '89 Gotham City stands as a testament to the filmmaking of old.

But just how did a set so large function? Even at 98 acres, how did one set bring forth the illusion of a city the size of Gotham? Well, thanks to fan Mark R. Jones, fans might finally have a better understanding.

See, Mark has been there. He's been to Gotham. He stepped on the same stairs that Vicki and Batman raced down on their escape from the Flugelheim. He crouched in front of the cathedral where Joker met his end. He passed by the same Monarch theatre where Bruce watched a final show with his parents. He has seen it all.... and he's here to tell us how:

I worked selling Amiga and ST computers and the games in a computer shop. My friends (Chris Herbert and Conrad Bedford) and I won a prize for selling such and such and the prize was a trip down to Pinewood Studios for some charity do. It was in aid of the Variety Club charity and there was a few 'celebs' there including Ernie Wise (of Morecambe and Wise), Colin Baker (who was a DR Who) and Faith Brown (impressionist). After a while it all got a little boring so me and my 2 mates went for a wander to see what else we could see. It was a Saturday or Sunday so there wasn't many people about. Hey ho, we only stumbled upon Gotham City. There was a hole in the fence, no one at all on the set, so we went in and had a good look around. So obviously this was MOMENTOUS. It was amazing, one minute you were in the woods, cross a stream, then a fence, walk through some scaffolding and there we were, Gotham City.

 photo fanvisit2_zps31421a11.jpg

 photo fanvisit1_zps1d522a27.jpg

It was huge. I'd never been to a film set before (or since) so it was TRULY impressive. The sheer size, scale and look of the place was breath taking.

But, none of us had a camera on us.

So, as soon as we could, we drove back to the film set took the photos that you see here. By the time we visited, the film had been finished but not released so we hadn't seen it. We didn't know at the time which items left laying around were going to be in the film and which weren't. So we took pics of everything! Some of the set was being re-painted as, I was told, they were preparing it for the shooting of the 2nd film. This plan was apparently then abandoned & the set was dismantled a few weeks after these photos were taken. It was great though being there and totally surreal seeing it all for real.

Using Mark's fantastic pictures and screen grabs from the film, we can get a pretty good idea of how the set was laid out. Let's start with an opening shot from the film of the set's main intersection.

 photo street_zpsad94a392.jpg

We can see 4 main buildings here. At the front of the picture, we see the back of the "Arnee's Bar" building on your left and the Flugelheim Museum on your right. The small park area with the statue of John T. Gotham (or at least I think it is John T. Gotham) is situated in front of the Flugelheim. Crossing the street, we see the Monarch directly opposed to Arnee's Bar and what we will refer to as the "Gotham Diner" across from the park. I've marked and color coded them all here:

 photo map-key_zps544e8105.jpg

We'll begin out "tour" at the Gotham Diner building, then work our way clockwise around the set until we get back. So let's hop over to the diner and sample some of Gotham's finest eats!

 photo diner1_zpsab8b676a.jpg

The diner building makes its first appearance in the film when Harold and his family try to make their way home from the Monarch. Notice the distinctive iron supports dotting the outer sidewalk and the "Gotham Diner" signs in the windows. These are great markers for pinpointing this location in Mark's pictures:

 photo fanvisit53_zpsd097ce66.jpg

 photo fanvisit52_zpsd14c1f93.jpg

Now we'll head to the area down the street to the right of the diner. Notice in this shot from the "On the Set with Bob Kane" featurette that the diner building ends just before an awning that spans the road.

 photo bob2_zpsf9263274.jpg

We see Harold and his family enter this alley after passing by the diner. Notice where the diner building ends to the left of the picture-

 photo alley1_zps0b236150.jpg

We can match that up to Mark's set pictures from inside the alley (the end of the Gotham diner building is on the right).

 photo fanvisit15_zps667d5e91.jpg

 photo fanvisit11_zpsb7814787.jpg

We then follow Harold and his family into the alley portion of the set on their way to be mugged-

 photo alley3_zpsc19ed9ff.jpg

We will get a little more into the alley later.... But for now, let's make sure that this alley is actually situated behind the diner on the Pinewood layout. When we first see them enter the alleys, we can spot a marker that lines up with other shots:

 photo alley3marked_zpscc2cc376.jpg

See that odd cone shaped structure I have marked with a yellow dot on the protruding wall back there? It matches up with the one visible here during the Eckhart and Jack "you oughtta think about the future" exchange. If you look further down the set behind them, you'll see a doorway to building with an ornate awning. I have marked it with a red dot.

 photo jacksalley2marked_zps78b8602f.jpg

Here is that same doorway in the set pictures-

 photo revisedmatch1_zps64d27efd.jpg

Here's a different angle on the scene. Again, we see our cone shaped structure (marked with a yellow dot), but now we also see the beginning of an overpass that spans the street (marked with a green dot).

 photo jacksalleymarked_zpsc03a2db2.jpg

...and here is that same overpass marked on our set picture-

 photo revisedmatch2_zpsbc33225e.jpg

As we pull back from that shot, we can see what important buildings this seedy alley lies near...

 photo fanvisit50marked_zpscaf2f692.jpg

 photo cityhall4marked_zpseb38e7ea.jpg

That's right... That seedy little alley is just a few steps from City Hall! Gotham's corruption knows no bounds. Since we're here, we'll take a few closer looks at City Hall.

 photo cityhall2_zps6eb66938.jpg

 photo fanvisit42_zps87221ee4.jpg

 photo fanvisit45_zps5da8c4c4.jpg

 photo fanvisit46_zpse79c4c28.jpg

 photo fanvisit44_zps3f3fe1fe.jpg

We also see in these pics that the small grassy area with the statue is situated neatly in front of City Hall, while the brick building where Bob took his pictures sits beside it.

 photo fanvisit47_zpsdc06d505.jpg

 photo cityhall3_zps23b5fe10.jpg

 photo cityhall1_zps9e25adcf.jpg

Though I never realized it while watching the film, the set pictures show us that the Flugelheim Museum is basically just one building away from City Hall.

 photo fanvisit49_zps54b2a157.jpg

In this scene from the film, we can see City Hall at the upper left of the picture as Batman and Vicki escape the museum.-

 photo flugelheim2_zps613fe039.jpg

The Flugelheim is probably my favorite spot on this incredible set. Genuis in design.

 photo fanvisit28_zps6e316bd7.jpg

 photo fanvisit31_zpsc7465f00.jpg

A little "movie magic" played a part in the filming of the exterior Flugelheim scenes. As we can see by the set pictures, the doors did open...

 photo fanvisit9_zps4df43755.jpg

...but since this set is just a fa├žade, fully opening the doors would reveal the lack of interior. Thankfully, Batman's smoke pellet and a little clever lighting hid this quite well.

 photo flugelheim3_zpsa0ee7aaf.jpg

Back to the layout... In the opening shot of the Flugelheim scene, we confirm again the statue park's proximity to the museum-

 photo flugelheim_zps9eeb69b3.jpg

Something very interesting in relation to the statue turned up in these set pictures. In an early draft of the film, a dedication ceremony for the John T. Gotham statue is interrupted by the Joker. When the statue is revealed, instead of John T. Gotham, a large replica of the Clown Prince of Crime stands atop the pedestal instead. Here is an excerpt from that version of the script:

 photo jokerstatue1_zpsbc6dd0ac.jpg

As we all now, a park statue (presumably of John T. Gotham) appears throughout the film.

 photo fanvisit26_zps66ec7655.jpg

...But during Mark's set visit, something else VERY similar to what is described in the script was also spotted:

 photo fanvisit5_zps9d04f2bd.jpg

This large Joker statue doesn't appear in the film (at least not to my recollection), but was present at the Pinewood set. We also know that the size of it pretty closely matches that of the statue in the park, since this Joker now resides (fully painted) in a Planet Hollywood restaurant.

 photo jokerstatue2_zps592d596c.jpg

Does this statue's presence on the set during Mark's visit imply that this scene almost made it into the film? Was it filmed and then deleted? Who knows... This is why we need a director's edition Warner! :)

Anyways... Back to the set. Since we are pretty much done at the Flugelheim, we'll keep moving to the right of the set. A short street is situated right next to the building.

 photo fanvisit38_zpsfbd30ced.jpg

As we walk down the street, we see the remainder of the Flugelheim at our left (note the large chunk of blackened masonry on the road, as we will use it as reference in a bit). These pictures reveal that the Flugelheim is fairly short... but still awesome. Guess that is all to see here... Wait a second! What is that!?!

 photo fanvisit27_zps3f86431e.jpg

What an incredible find- The Bat-symbol structure used to film the opening sequence of the movie just happened to be sitting around on the set the day that Mark and his friends came to visit!

 photo symbol_zpse8758a0e.jpg

 photo fanvisit8_zps0a7bd838.jpg

The image that folks first saw when they nestled into theater seats way back in June of '89... Just propped up against a wall. Crazy.

But back to the set. We have seen what is on our left, but what about the right?

 photo fanvisit29_zps01e4eb2c.jpg

Well, thanks to the wonderful chunk of blackened reference, we see that the other side of the street has a few shops and such. We can match those up to the ones seen in the opening shot as part of the "Arnee's bar" building. We aren't heading up there just yet though. After all, we still need to see what is at the end of this street. Let's take a look at a couple of wide shots.

 photo bob3_zpsa1ee60db.jpg

 photo fanvisit13_zps2e44c80b.jpg

Yup... That is the cathedral hiding away back there!

 photo fanvisit6_zps40e28c69.jpg

 photo cathedral2_zpsccd56ccc.jpg

Again, we can confirm its location by using reference points in the film. Here we can see correlating circular anniversary signage on the lightpoles that match our first look at this street from the opposing direction-

 photo cathedral1_zpsb570e01c.jpg

And even though this shot was done in miniature, it still matches the setup of the physical set. Notice the "Weismann" shop sign to your right that was present in the view we just had of this side of the street-

 photo cathedral3_zps192fd1bb.jpg

And of course, there is this wonderful shot from the James Bond fan Pinewood Studios tour event from years ago:

 photo bondvisit5_zpsc04d85a0.jpg

The cathedral seems to be all that is going on down here. Using our handy chunk of black reference again, we can see that at the front of the block (with the Monarch across the street), is the entrance to Arnee's bar. (A bar less than a block from a church? Only in Gotham.)

 photo fanvisit18_zps20c22887.jpg

Let's run down the street a bit and get a better view of it from the front (thanks to screen grabs and Mark's pictures).

 photo bob1_zps09b75caa.jpg

 photo fanvisit25_zpsd244812f.jpg

...and from the other side-

 photo fanvisit28_zps6e316bd7.jpg

 photo fanvisit34_zpsce9551b1.jpg

Now for those of you that might not remember this location in the film, let me give you some help. Arnee's bar is the building on the corner where Batman shoots his grapple to allow the Batmobile to handle the sharp turn at high speed. See-

 photo chase1_zps1747beb7.jpg

If the Batmobile continues down that street though, it would run smack dab into a building... But not just any building. Note the "HOTEL" sign-

 photo monarchcrimealley_zps6bfbe4cf.jpg

This is the spot where Wayne's parents were killed and the Batman was born, directly behind and between the Arnee's bar and Monarch Theater buildings at Pinewood.

 photo crimealley2_zps34c79931.jpg

 photo bob1marked_zps3c549ee5.jpg

As we leave the scene of tragedy, we head on to the prestigious Monarch Theatre. Mark's pictures give us a view of how it connects to the hotel building.

 photo fanvisit20_zps6ad0a018.jpg

We get a small glimpse of a building behind the Monarch (more on it later). Oh, and notice the large "Footlight Frenzy" sign?

 photo fanvisit21_zps2ae6bbce.jpg

That is the same show the Wayne family saw the night Bruce's parents were gunned down-

 photo monarchsign_zpsdbba2f34.jpg

As we move to the front of the Monarch, we'll take a look at some shots that give us reference as to its overall placement at Pinewood. In relation to the statue park-

 photo square2_zps867fd02c.jpg

 photo fanvisit25_zpsd244812f.jpg

 photo fanvisit24_zps1ee03b79.jpg

...and across from the diner building-

 photo fanvisit22_zpsdd5d7428.jpg

This brings us to the road separating the Monarch and the diner building. Behind the Monarch is a large circular gray building (which we spotted when we looked at the other side of the Monarch).

 photo fanvisit24_zps1ee03b79.jpg

 photo fanvisit19_zps7dde336b.jpg

See that little red awning on the side of the Monarch in the shot above? Well, Mark stationed himself there to take this shot of the shops attached to the diner building across the street-

 photo fanvisit33_zps976aa8d1.jpg

The road actually extends quite a bit down from the diner building though. Check out this shot taken on a tour of Pinewood set up for Bond film fans years ago. This picture was taken from the opposite end of the road, in front of the cathedral.

 photo bondvisit1_zpsc265087d.jpg

We see the diner building with its iron structures peppering the sidewalk... followed by wedge shaped structures lining the road. Here they are again from the opposite end of the street (opposite the cathedral, on the street between the Monarch and diner buildings).

 photo bondvisit3_zps4132ccad.jpg

 photo bondvisit2_zpsabe16863.jpg

These wedge-shaped structures play a part in figuring out another location of Gotham... This mysterious alley in Mark's pictures-

 photo fanvisit41_zps9c3d4414.jpg

If you look closely, you can see one of the wedge-shaped structures at the very front of the entrance to this alley.

 photo fanvisit41cropped_zps2f53b03b.jpg

This helps us place the entrance coming off the street behind the diner. If we look closely at the shot of the diner from the Monarch, we can actually match up a couple of spots to prove this.

 photo fanvisit33marked_zpsd2f344ed.jpg

 photo fanvisit41marked_zps9a4b93c2.jpg

What is so significant about this alley in Mark's pictures that makes me want to pin it down? It is this alley that Wayne walks down to deliver the flowers at the place of his parents' murder. Check this scene from the film:

 photo crimealley1_zps193a08d1.jpg

Though we are seeing the beginning of the alley in Mark's photo and the end of it in the scene on film, we can still match up certain spots. A red sign is present in both (marked with a yellow dot), the large woodworked panel with 4 X marks at the bottom (marked with a red dot), and the steps in the concrete leading to the first of 2 doors (marked with a green dot)-

 photo crimealley1_zps7e28656b.jpg

 photo fanvisit41_zps61c688a3.jpg

Unfortunately, an obstruction or an error in Mark's film prevents us from seeing the second door in the set visit photo, while a protruding wall prevents us from seeing the first door in the film... But even without those, this definitely matches up as the same alley. After Bruce walks through this alley, he makes a left turn and ends up at the sidewalk in front of the hotel where his parents are murdered. This is one of the few times where the set doesn't match up to the events in the film. For as you make the left turn at the end of this alley, you are here:

 photo fanvisit39_zps54bf6e6f.jpg

A brick wall. There is that second door Bruce passed by on your left confirming where we are. So in this case, the alley that Bruce walks down couldn't have lead out to the spot where his parents were murdered in front of the Hotel (especially since by going down this alley he is actually traveling away from the Monarch). It is common practice for scenes to be shot in multiple places and then put back together... But with so many shots following a pretty traceable shot throughout the Gotham City set, I found this one being broken up to be very interesting. Makes me think that they thought long and hard about where they wanted the "birth of Batman" to take place, and all the filming had to be structured around making that happen.

Another interesting thing about this alley is figuring out whether or not it connects to the circuit of alleys we talked about before (where Harold and his family get mugged, Jack talks to Eckhart, etc). Using the scenery as reference, we can use Mark's shots to show what is to the right at the end of this alley: A tattoo shop.

 photo fanvisit36_zps077114ee.jpg

I didn't recall ever seeing the tattoo shop in the film before, but while watching the "Beyond Batman" special feature on the DVD anthology set the other day, I spotted something very interesting...

 photo tattoo1_zps33e6bdc3.jpg

There is the tattoo shop! And boy do its surroundings seem familiar. Notice the large "No Dumping" sign and the design of the masonry on the corner? They match up with Harold's entrance to the alley from the other side of the diner set!

 photo haroldentrance2_zpsd78338d1.jpg

 photo haroldentrance1_zps051b4db3.jpg

This means that the alley that Harold entered from one side of the Gotham Diner building is actually the same alley that Wayne enters from the other side (at least for some of the scenes). In fact, we can match them up from the set pictures. Notice the large awning (marked in pink), the adjacent small awning (marked in yellow), and the oddly colored stripe of pavement from this scene with Harold and his family:

 photo fanvisitmarkedref_zps547e0c80.jpg

Here are those same spots matched up with Mark's pic of "Wayne's alley":

 photo fanvisitmarked_zpsc54afc65.jpg

So thanks to that one shot buried in a special feature, we have connected the alley set. But that wasn't all that popped up in that segment... Look at this beautiful aerial shot of Gotham at Pinewood!

 photo mapunmarked_zpsd803afe7.jpg

Using our pictorial journey, we can now identify all of the major shooting areas in this fantastic set-

 photo mapmarked_zpsf2c8702f.jpg

I don't think there is any better way to conclude our trip around Gotham than with that picture.... Oh wait, there was one more thing on the set the day that Mark and his friends visited:

 photo fanvisit12_zps9724b564.jpg

For some reason, the vault that contained Batman's suit in the Batcave was there!

 photo vault_zpsae961cea.jpg

When asked about its inexplicable presence there, Mark had this to say:

Nope, no idea why it was there. We tried to open it but that rope was tied way too tight! And we didn't want to damage anything. We just thought it was a big safe!

Batman protecting his stuff with knots. Gotta love it.

So that concludes (really this time) our trip around Gotham! Hope you enjoyed it (and that you didn't get lost in some seedy, dark alley along the way). A HUGE thanks to Mark for sharing these wonderful pictures with the world!

21 comments:

  1. Wow, even I learnt lots of things about the pics and I took them! Fantastic dissection and presentation. Great work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Mark! It really means a lot to me hearing that you appreciated the post... And thank you once again for letting me use your pictures. :)

      Delete
  2. Youve missed the 2 things I salvaged and kept though! :-D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was actually going to message you about those this weekend. :)

      Delete
  3. Brilliant post! thank you for making this Batman fans day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are quite welcome! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Delete
  4. Wow that was amazing . Thankyou for sharing this . The greatest movie of the 80's

    ReplyDelete
  5. James, thanks so much for putting in the effort so we could 'share' the tour of the set with you. I have an obsession with the car and have been in communication with some of the the build team, but I so wish I could have been there with you on that day.
    Great thanks to Mark also for allowing the posting of his pics, now what was it he 'salvaged' ? It would be great to think that some of the 'prop' parts lying around would have been saved, but I bet most of these pieces went into the skip at the end of the day.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I saved some fake Gotham City cash from the Jokers parade but most of it has crumbled away. I may have some bits in a box in my attic. I saved an Eros Theatre sign, which I have lost. No idea why it was Eros as the theatre was called the Monarch. I saved a bit of wall off the Flugelheim. I *think* I still have this. I saved a 'Gerrolds of Gotham City' shop opening times sign which I still have. Last thing was I pulled a poster off the wall hoping it may be in the film, it was one of two, and it was seen in the background of a shot when Vicky Vale got out of a car. I have this framed on my bedroom wall!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Mark,

    I recall seeing the Batman sets close to where I parked my car when visiting Image Animation (Bob Keen) at Pinewood Studios in 1990. It was falling apart and I think Bob said that they had kept it there in case they returned to film a sequel. In stark daylight two years later it was in a right state and I doubt much of it would have been reusable but in the end they didn't film Batman Returns at Pinewood anyway IIRC

    ReplyDelete
  8. This reminds me of the Batman play I saw at Six Flags in Atlanta, Georgia a long time ago back when I was a small kid. The buildings had different levels of entry to the stage the audience sees: A 2nd and maybe 3rd floor, and the ground. I remember seeing Batman running and checking around and seeing the Joker pop out. I don't remember seeing them fight, but it was an amazing show. The way the buildings were designed closely resemble this.

    Stuff like that can still be used for other means... If the buildings have interiors, like the restaurant actually having seats and stuff, or even if not, you can always make it a set for actor zombies, and let customers carry like a paintball gun. The zombies can wear a paintball mask covered in grotesque zombie skin so people can just shoot them anywhere.

    Or what if you drugged a very bad criminal and he wakes up there at night? Yet, there are some very realistic-looking creatures out to get him... with only the best engineered audio/bass speakers hidden to make ambience and sounds like a dream... Possibly, he'd know he's awake, but it could be much of a ghetto-reality I sometimes feel happened long ago... that doesn't belong to any of my real memories. But there's no way to really make justice with that, besides some fun way of discipline/rehabilitation. After all, some people do crazy shit because they want to do something that feels important.

    Either way, it's a privilege getting to know what it took to release such a movie sooner than later... later... HAha, as in waiting for CGI technology. 1989 is also the year I was born. It helps me connect to myself more in having to trust a claim to be on my birth date... it's like a closed door with things occurring before I was born.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the reply and for checking it out! :)

      Delete
  9. i was 8 when this film was released and people don't relise just how big this film was and the effect it had on people, I was always interested the batman set and just happened to google batman backlot pinewood and could not belive I found this

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wouldn't it have been amazing, albeit unliklely, if you had managed to cut the rope, open the safe and inside was the Batman suit?! But regardless what a great set of photos and piece of history. To film fans finding photos of film sets, and props (particularly from films that defined your childhood) there is something inexplicably magical about it. Great stuff guys. Great website.

    Simon

    ReplyDelete
  11. I would have done anything to see this movie set when I was 15. I been looking all over the internet for photo's of the film set, and I'm glad I came across your site. Thanks for posting this.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Massive batman fan from Australia and i was 13 when this came out. Easily the best batman movie ever made and an awesome website and write-up of the set. There used to be an awesome video on youtube called "Batman Break In" from a guy who lived in UK and visited the set by going under a fence but it is no longer online. Love this article though, cheers for the work.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Amazing stuff Mark.. I felt I stumbled across the site I had been looking for for years. Being 13 when the movie was released I don't think that ahything since ever reached the fevered anticipation raised by it. Thanks and congrats!

    ReplyDelete
  14. This film is as huge to me now at 29 as it was when I first saw it at 6!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Wow! This is really amazing. I've seen pictures of the set before, but this made me truly felt like I was on a tour of it. '89 Batman has always been my favorite movie (next to Ghostbusters), and it's absolutely wonderful to see a site like this with all the neat, nostalgic things on it. Thank you, good sir, for making this Batman fan's day!

    ReplyDelete