Doctor Strange filmed from UK base

Doctor StrangeThe UK was a production base for Marvel’s new superhero movie Doctor Strange, with sets built at Longcross Film Studios in Surrey.

Doctor Strange tells the story of a skilled New York-based neurosurgeon who becomes drawn to mystic arts when a car crash injury hampers his ability to perform surgery.

“Longcross provided an excellent studio layout for this film, with the stages, workshops and extensive backlot build area we required,” says Jamie Lengyel, the film’s supervising location manager, in comments to The Knowledge. 

“Stage work included New York interiors and the Kamar Taj temple. Complex visual effects-led Hong Kong scenes required a controllable neon-lit street - we were able to build a 200-metre Hong Kong street set between industrial buildings, replicating businesses and signage we scouted in Hong Kong. 

“The Longcross Test Track also offered us a perfect location for stunt driving and the pivotal New York crash scene.”

Marvel has pushed visual effects boundaries with Doctor Strange as the character explores different astral plains. To accomplish this, the production team needed the controlled environment of sound stages and green screen technology.

Plate shots were also filmed in London and New York to provide the backgrounds for these sequences. Additionally, streets in Hong Kong were photographed and mapped specifically for visual effects purposes and married with aerials of the city shot at night. The cityscapes of the astral plains were inspired in part by the surreal architectural drawings of artist MC Escher, but the plate images were shot in New York.   

Doctor Strange trainsIn the film Doctor Strange travels to Nepal to seek an understanding of the mystic arts and the production team went out to the country to film scenes in the capital Kathmandu.

The local film industry is not well developed, so Marvel’s shoot there was more guerrilla in style.

Prep for this part of the shoot took place before the earthquake that struck the country in May 2015.

Lengyel returned to the city a few weeks later to assess the quake’s impact on their location filming options as Marvel was still keen to shoot there to support and promote Kathmandu. 

“To take advantage of the magical colour and unpredictable vibrancy of Kathmandu, this was more naturalistic filming, with less street control - Strange journeying through the real streets and temples of the city,” Lengyel says. 

“The limited filming infrastructure for a studio film [in Kathmandu] required us to establish unorthodox shooting methods but we received fantastic and enthusiastic support from the city and our local production services Durbar Associates and Mountain Tiger.”

“The entire cast and crew involved will certainly regard working in Kathmandu as a humbling and very special life experience.”

While south-east England was a production base for Doctor Strange, filming in the UK is becoming less common for Marvel. The studio has worked in the UK before for the likes of Avengers: Age of Ultron and Guardians of the Galaxy. Now, however, Marvel generally uses the US city of Atlanta as its main production base, which is one of America’s main filming hubs.

Images: Marvel Studios


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