Revealed: Locations where The Batman movie starring Robert Pattinson was filmed
- Credit: Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Warner Bros.
The Batman is officially out tomorrow (Friday, March 4) with Robert Pattinson starring in the reboot. It's not the first Batman movie to hit cinemas.
Hatfield House and Knebworth House famously doubled for Wayne Manor in Tim Burton's classic 1989 Batman movie.
Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader filmed scenes at both Hertfordshire stately homes for the blockbuster also starring Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger.
There's a new Batman in Gotham City in 2022, with Robert Pattinson wearing the famous cape and cowl in the dual role of the vigilante detective and his alter ego, reclusive billionaire Bruce Wayne, in Matt Reeves’ new The Batman movie.
But did you know the highly anticipated blockbuster from Warner Bros. Pictures was partly filmed in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire?
As well as being filmed on location in Chicago, America, and London, Liverpool and Glasgow in the UK, The Batman was also shot on sets built at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden in Hertfordshire and in neighbouring county Bedfordshire at Cardington Studios.
More than a year of stalking the streets as the Batman (Robert Pattinson), striking fear into the hearts of criminals, has led Bruce Wayne deep into the shadows of Gotham City.
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With only a few trusted allies – Alfred Pennyworth (Andy Serkis) and Lt James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) – among the city’s corrupt network of officials and high-profile figures, the lone vigilante has established himself as the sole embodiment of vengeance amongst his fellow citizens.
During the scouting phase of pre-production, the locations team looked at several American cities, including Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and New York, but decided to base the main shoot in London and the UK.
Production designer James Chinlund had some doubts at first, but once he started scouting in Manchester and Liverpool in England and Glasgow in Scotland, he spotted the potential.
“We noticed a decayed Gothic layer that we just don’t have in the States,” he says.
“It gave us a real opportunity to combine practical set builds and some Chicago location work with this amazing rich tapestry of architecture from the UK, and to try and weave all that into an American city you’ve never seen before.”
In the end, location work included Liverpool, Glasgow and London, while Leavesden and Cardington Studios provided stages and backlot space for the huge set builds.
Among the mega sets created at Leavesden in Herts was the iconic Batcave.
Second unit shooting also took place in Chicago, with stunt doubles on the motorbike and Batmobile, as well as drone footage that would be seamlessly woven into the main footage.
Here's a behind-the-scenes look at seven of the locations where The Batman was filmed.
1. Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, Hertfordshire
The Batcave, Batman’s base of operations, and Wayne Tower were two of the sets built at the Leavesden studios near Watford.
The crew filmed extensively at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden using five of the stages and the backlot where the city of Gotham was created.
In The Batman, the Batcave is situated in the bowels of Wayne Tower, where the vigilante has transformed the old Wayne Terminus railway station into his hidden headquarters, accessed through a series of secret tunnels.
“The Batcave and Wayne Tower, both built on the stages at Leavesden Studios, were two sets that make a production designer wake up in the night in a cold sweat!” James Chinlund laughs.
“Those two sets have been executed so beautifully by so many in the past, how could we possibly create something new that the fans hadn’t seen before?
"Matt [Reeves] and I agreed that all we could do was deliver something that feels true and real to our story."
Driving Chinlund’s design for Batman’s home and possessions was the particular DIY nature of Bruce Wayne’s mindset in the movie.
“The look of Wayne Tower, the look of the Batcave, and the look of the Batmobile reflect that he couldn’t care less about his wealth and Wayne Industries."
London was another location used for The Batman.
James Chinlund used Central Saint Martins art and design college in London to double as the Gotham City Police Department Command Center, as well as the morgue, one of Chinlund's favorite sets.
“The architecture and patina of this building just lent itself so well to going way down in the bowels of the Gotham City Hospital, where they are understaffed and underfunded.”
3. Cardington Studios, Bedfordshire
Other major sets included Gotham City Hall, whose interior was constructed at Cardington Studios near Bedford.
The Neoclassical, Grade I-listed St George’s Hall in Liverpool doubled for the exterior.
The set had to accommodate real stunts, where a car smashes through the doors and drives up the central staircase. You can see that clip in the The Bat and The Cat trailer.
Previous screen credits of the former airship hangar at Cardington include Christian Bale's Batman trilogy – Batman Begins, Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises.
The rooftop of the Gotham City Police Department combines elements of the famous Liver Building in Liverpool and the Chicago Board of Trade Building.
For the sequence when Batman uses his wingsuit, wide aerials of Batman standing on the parapet were shot on location in Liverpool.
These were then heavily altered in post-production to increase the height of the building and replace Liverpool’s waterfront with Gotham City.
However, the shot of Batman actually leaping from the building was filmed on a partial set at Leavesden, with a camera strapped to the back of a stunt performer on wires.
The stuntman only had eight feet of travel before he reached the bottom of the set, so the shot handed over to a digital GCPD building and Batman as the wingsuit inflated and began to take flight.
For the look of the film, Reeves was keen to create a world that was at once plausible and unrecognisable.
“We didn’t want to have Times Square standing in for Gotham Square,” he says, “so we added skyscrapers and an elevated train to the gothic architecture of Wellington Square in Liverpool, with the idea that you look at it and think, ‘Where is that?’
"One of the characters of the film is Gotham and as the crimes are alluding to the history of corruption in Gotham, the idea of the presence of that place as a character was critical.”
St George’s Hall in Liverpool doubled for the exterior of Gotham City Hall.
5. Chicago, United States
Batman’s descent through the urban canyon was based largely on LaSalle Street in Chicago, where the production shot extensive plates from a drone.
“However, the drone didn’t have the correct flight dynamics and was not able to fly fast enough to realistically recreate wingsuit flight,” says visual effects supervisor Dan Lemmon.
“So, the VFX team used the Chicago footage as a springboard to create a grittier Gotham-ized street in CG that they could then race through with more appropriate flight dynamics.”
6. Lower Manhattan, New York City
Creating the Gotham skyline was tricky.
Chinlund says: “We realised it was going to be beneficial to find a location where we could shoot plates, which would allow us to judge the way the light reflects off of other buildings.
"We found a location in Lower Manhattan that we used to anchor the unfinished skyscraper, and then rebuilt the world around it.
"That became a key part of the Tricorner Bridge area of Gotham. So,” he smiles, “there is a piece of Lower Manhattan that was the kernel of our city after all.”
7. Glasgow, Scotland
Glasgow's historic Necropolis features in The Batman with Batman seen riding his Batbike through the Victorian cemetery in one of the teaser trailers.
The Batman's Visual effects
While locations and studio sets made up a very large part of the shoot, visual effects, led by Dan Lemmon, were naturally a major contributor.
The Batman production utilised LED volume technology to bring much of the locations to life.
Lemmon and his team worked for months to get the images of Gotham up on the LED screens, meaning that a lot of what he and his team would normally accomplish in post-production was right at the front of the film's schedule.
Says Lemmon: “We weren’t the first to use LED volumes, but the extent to which we used it building the world of Gotham and having a volume that wasn’t purpose-built, but literally went up in days and came back down in days – this was a new thing, and we made it very flexible, which was also one of the key new things.”