May 15, 2024

Where Was Wonka Filmed? Key UK Locations Unveiled

The latest Roald Dahl-inspired movie, a prequel to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," features Timothée Chalamet as a young Willy Wonka, along with a star-studded cast including Olivia Colman, Hugh Grant, Matt Lucas, and Rowan Atkinson. Released in December, the film delves into the origin story of the beloved character. While much of the movie was shot at Warner Bros. Studios, the production team utilized various scenic locations across the UK to bring this whimsical narrative to life.

Bath

Historical Transformation

In October 2021, Bath was transformed into an atmospheric winter wonderland. Key areas used included Kingston Buildings, Bath Street, Parade Gardens, and the Riverside Colonnades.

Notable Locations

Bath Abbey

Provided a magnificent backdrop, enriched by views of the cast and vintage cars.

Parade Gardens

Served dual purposes, both in the film and as production offices.

Riverside Colonnades

Known less widely, this 17th-century architectural gem featured a key scene where Wonka reclines on a bench.

Lyme Regis

The Cobb

This iconic location featured prominently with Timothée Chalamet’s character skipping down the famous steps.

Lydia Eva

The last surviving steam drifter from the 1930s, moored in the harbour, played a role in a scene depicting young Willy Wonka's arrival in England.

Harbour Scenes

The Cobb, curving around the harbour, is pivotal for showing Willy Wonka’s grand entrance atop his van after travelling the world.

Oxford

Winter Scene

Filming in February 2022 involved creating fake snow and depicting a 1940s ambiance, particularly on Merton Street.

Historic Landmarks

Oxford's renowned structures like the Bridge of Sighs, Bodleian Library, and Sheldonian Theatre enhanced the visual narrative.

St Albans

Verulamium Park

Utilized for multiple scenes, with local landmarks like the bridge across the River Ver and the park map visible in the trailer.

Winter Transformation

The addition of black vintage lampposts and artificial snow gave the park a wintry feel.

Main Filming Location

Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden

Extensive use of sound stages and backlot constructions at Leavesden to create a cohesive fantasy world. Previous productions here include major projects like "Barbie" and the "Harry Potter" franchise.

Behind-The-Scenes Insights

Collaborative Efforts

Production Designer Nathan Crowley’s significant role, collaborating closely with director Paul King to scout locations and infuse artistic vision.

Construction and Set Design

Design intricacies involved in creating seamless transitions between real-life locations and constructed sets using VFX and matte work.

Inspiration and Artistic Choices

The unscripted cityscape was specifically built to embody an idealized Roald Dahl city, unachievable by scouting existing European locations. The influence of architectural elements from places like Georgian London and medieval Bruges were evident in the visual design.

Critical Reception

The movie has received praise for its charm, character work, and imaginative storytelling. Positive reviews highlight the film as "full of charm, hissable villains and pure imagination,” with Vanity Fair noting its balance of heart and Dahl’s signature edge.

Impact on Locales

St Albans received a notable location fee, benefiting the local community financially. The choice of filming locations significantly contributed to the creation of the magical world of "Wonka." The historic and visually striking sites of Bath, Lyme Regis, Oxford, and St Albans provided atmospheric settings that elevated the storytelling. Each city presented unique backdrops that not only complemented the narrative but also showcased the architectural and cultural heritage of these UK destinations.

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