A galaxy of Hollywood stars could be Blackpool bound as a major film shoots in the resort.
More than 200 cast and crew for top Hollywood director Tim Burton’s latest project are moving in ahead of filming early next month.
Preparations are being made for a ‘stunt’ to be shot at The Tower, on the Promenade and on North Pier.
Burton – who last year revealed: “I am Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s number one fan” – is currently working on filming Mrs Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children in the UK.
It stars Samuel L Jackson, Dame Judi Dench, Eva Green, Chris O’Dowd, Terence Stamp and Rupert Everett.
The Prom will be closed to traffic and pedestrians between Talbot Road at North Pier to Coral Island, with buses and taxis being diverted to St John’s Square in a bid to ‘minimise disruption’.
I am Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s number one fanTim Burton
This will take place between 8.30am Tuesday, May 5, and 8am Saturday, May 9.
Police, fire and ambulance crews will still have access to the Prom, a letter to businesses from location managers for Fox UK Productions confirmed.
The tram tracks will be closed between Manchester Square and North Pier between 6am and 3pm from Wednesday to Friday, May 6 to 8.
The letter added: “During the road closure, the area in front of The Tower will need to be kept completely free of nonessential traffic and people. Pedestrian barriers will be erected to help police this. We will never restrict access for any emergency vehicles and where possible allow access for deliveries.”
Alan Cavill, Blackpool Council’s Director of Place, said: “For the next month Fox UK Productions is in Blackpool filming scenes for an upcoming feature film.
“Once the film is released we believe that Blackpool will be in the international spotlight which is fantastic news for the town and the businesses that operate here.
“We know any closure to the Promenade can cause disruption so we have decided to open St John’s Square for taxis and bus services to use which we hope will minimise any inconvenience.
“The closure of this section of the Promenade is essential to allow the filming to take place, as soon as the road can be reopened it will be.”
Fox UK admit the schedule is ‘at the mercy of the British weather’ and warn that ‘should the weather take a turn for the worst’ the closures may need to be repeated during the week beginning Monday, May 11.”
North Pier has already been closed to the public this week, amid preparations for the shoot, and owner Peter Sedgewick said it was a “fabulous” opportunity.
“We are glad of the revenue for the pier and the publicity,” he said. “It’s all good for Blackpool and will show it in a good light. It’s taken a lot of organising and we have had to do a lot of work.”
Buses and taxis going north along the Prom will have access as far as Adelaide Street West during the closures, and St John’s Square will be available for taxis and bus services.
Stephen Buckley, committee member for the Blackpool Licensed Taxi Operators’ Association, said drivers were happy with the arrangements, but raised concerns about motorists becoming frustrated in heavy traffic.
He added: “The council is opening up St John’s Square, allowing us to divert around the Prom. If we need to drop off by The Tower we can use Church Street and Adelaide Street West. They have made allowances for us.
“The major problem could be St John’s Square though.
“We have restrictions and the council has said it will marshal it. The only problem is if people are stuck in traffic they will try and get through that way.”
‘It’s a good thing to get A-listers coming to town’
With around 230 cast and crew headed for the resort, hotels and B&B owners have also praised Fox UK’s decision to come to Blackpool.
Claire Smith, president of hoteliers’ group StayBlackpool, said: “It’s a huge coup for Blackpool.
“Although I know it is inconvenient to close central Prom, it’s going to be worth it.
“We get the hit now with people staying here, especially during the early season, and then the publicity when the film comes out.
“For every great thing, there’s always a little down side, but this time, both in what we get now and the potential, it’s a small price to pay.”
Hotel owners in the town centre are also pleased to hear the news.
Rebecca Burrell, 47, of The Lancastria in Albert Road said: “That sounds amazing for Blackpool and it is nice to get good publicity. It should bring a good amount of people through the door. It is going to appeal to people of all ages.
“The Promenade was shut for a longer time than this will be when the layout was changed and it did not cause too much aggravation.
“For it to be closed for a few days it is worth it with all the publicity we will get.”
And Roger Gilmore, 67, of The Roselea, in Albert Road, added: “It’s a good thing to get A-listers coming to town.
“The council shuts roads for days at a time and we cope. I am sure we can all make do with this, while it will help to put the town on the map.”
But Lindsey Fieldsend, from The Trafalgar, also in Albert Road, said the Promenade closure was “annoying” and “a bit disruptive”.
Leye D Johns, co-director of Viva Blackpool – which is within the Prom closure area – said: “It’s going to be brilliant.”
Eccentric star director with a love for resort
Last summer, Burton, whose films including Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands (pictured) and Alice in Wonderland, paid a visit to the Pleasure Beach during a whistle-stop tour of the resort.
In 2012 he directed a video for US band The Killers in the resort.
The film is an adaptation of children’s book Mrs Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, with a screenplay by Jane Goldman – wife of another celebrity fan of Blackpool, chat show host Jonathan Ross.
The ‘unforgettable, thrilling and haunting’ tale follows 17-year-old Jacob, played by Asa Butterfield – best known for The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and Hugo – as clues take him to a mysterious island, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
He discovers its former occupants were far more than ‘peculiar’, but that they ‘possessed incredible powers. And they may still be alive’.
A spokesman for the Pleasure Beach said: “Tim Burton has been a frequent visitor to Blackpool Pleasure Beach since 2012.
“It’s great recognition that the Hollywood director will be filming in resort once again.
“Blackpool continues to be an iconic backdrop for many TV and production crews.”