Liverpool plays NYC alongside Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep in Florence Foster JenkinsThe city of Liverpool doubled for 1940s New York in Stephen Frears’ new film Florence Foster Jenkins

Based on real events, the feature recounts the obsessive efforts of the titular American heiress (played by Meryl Streep) as she battles to fulfil her dream of becoming a classical singer, despite her clear and audible lack of talent. Hugh Grant plays her manager and partner St. Clair Bayfield. 

The production team, cast and extras totalling around 250 moved from Twickenham Studios to the north-west for the Liverpool part of the shoot, which took place over five days in June around the Water Street area. 

Liverpool is well known for doubling for other cities, partly because of the high volume of grand civic buildings and period architecture. 

Florence Foster Jenkins

In the case of Florence Foster Jenkins, producer Tracey Seaward – who was working alongside Michael Kuhn – said: “One of the biggest challenges we faced making Florence Foster Jenkins in the UK was always going to be how to find 1940s New York.

 “The elegance and grandeur of Liverpool (with a little assistance from VFX) made it easy. Liverpool provided us with New York exteriors and made it possible for us to shoot the movie in the UK. Thank you Liverpool!”  

Liverpool’s Film Office manager, Lynn Saunders, added: “Liverpool is certainly no stranger to hosting big films and big stars and it’s not only a wonderful boost for the local economy, but it also engenders a sense of pride in the people who live here that there is a real desire for these blockbusters to be filmed here.”

Florence Foster Jenkins

The boost to the local economy has certainly been high, estimated at over £11.5m over the last year. Liverpool’s production profile is high and rising – with filming in the city up 20% last year as compared to 2014. This was broken down into a total of 230 productions filming there over 998 shoot days. 

The city also provided the only non-studio location backdrop in the first of the trilogy of Harry Potter spin-offs, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, last autumn, and is currently in the spotlight in Harlan Coben’s The Five for Sky 1. 

The outlook is set to improve further as plans for a designated film studio in the city appear to be making progress. 

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