A century of cinema to be celebrated in Leicester Square
A dynamic trail of interactive bronze statues will grace London’s Leicester Square from next month, celebrating the capital’s rich movie history and exciting future.
‘Scenes in the Square’ is a unique cultural initiative by Heart of London Business Alliance in partnership with Westminster City Council and major film studios.
A creative expression of the past hundred years of movie magic, the long-term art installation will feature highly recognisable classic and contemporary film characters, each immortalised in interactive and expressive bronze statues, some brought to life in the evening through lighting.
Leicester Square has long been the home of film, with the first cinema opening in 1930 and the very first movie premiere taking place in 1937. This long-term trail celebrates unforgettable movies from almost every decade since then through to the 2020s, with each character dynamically interacting with the scenery in the square, from rooftops and walls to benches and flower beds.
Representing the 1920s to 1940s will be legendary comedy duo Laurel and Hardy who starred in over 100 films together, including Liberty (1929) which is the inspiration for the daring stunt that will see their statues playfully teetering on a rooftop.
Another timeless figure will celebrate his eightieth birthday, as a statue of Looney Tunes’ Bugs Bunny, the animated character to have appeared in the most films in history since his first official appearance in 1940’s A Wild Hare, will grace a nearby flower bed.
Representing the 1950s will be the joyful and iconic figure of Gene Kelly on a lamppost from the timeless dance sequence he directed and choreographed for ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (1952). The film is regarded as one of the greatest movie musicals of all time.
Meanwhile a statue of Mary Poppins will appear to land gracefully in Leicester Square gardens, the 1964 film a shining example of 1960s cinema and still relevant today with Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s West End musical now playing at the Prince Edward Theatre.
Also gracing Leicester Square’s rooftops will be Batman, DC’s iconic Super Hero, keeping watch over London from a rooftop. First introduced in Detective Comics #27, the heroic statue celebrates Batman’s onscreen presence in every decade since the 1980s.
The trail will also recognise a British comedy great in Mr Bean, who bumbled his way to box office success in his first big screen outing ‘Bean’ in 1997, after first appearing on our television screens 30 years ago in 1990, with the versatile comic performer Rowan Atkinson playing the hapless hero.
Only 14 episodes of the original Mr Bean ‘live action’ TV series were made, followed by a further two feature films and three animated series. Mr Bean is now the biggest TV brand on Facebook globally, with 89 million fans. Visitors will be able to share a bench in Leicester Square gardens with Rowan Atkinson’s globally popular creation.
Representing the 2010s will be the treasured British icon Paddington, whose beloved cinematic outings Paddington and Paddington 2 premiered in Leicester Square in 2014 and 2017 respectively. Visitors to Leicester Square gardens will be able to sit on a bench and have lunch beside this marmalade-loving star of the two BAFTA-nominated films.
Completing the trail and representing the 2020s and the bright future of cinema, will be Wonder Woman - DC’s iconic Super Hero who stands for justice, peace and equality. Bursting dynamically through a wall, the figure celebrates the 2020 release of Wonder Woman 1984, starring Gal Gadot.
Although the UK, and London especially, have a long and impressive list of film credentials, according to a recent survey conducted by Heart of London Business Alliance, one in five people feel London doesn’t currently have enough interesting film attractions, like the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This trail aims to bring to life the public’s most loved film moments, in an accessible and engaging way.
Leicester Square has been hosting red carpet movie premieres since the 1930s and over a third (34%) associate the location primarily with the glitz and glamour of these film events. Yet as only 7% have been lucky enough to attend a premiere, the goal of ‘Scenes in the Square’ is to make the square more accessible, interactive and exciting for visitors from 2020 and cement its place as the heart of film in London.
Mark Williams, Head of Consumer Marketing at Heart of London Business Alliance, says, “Film is an incredibly universal art form and Leicester Square has been its London home for many years. With statues depicting films through the years, from the 1920s to 2020, we hope ‘Scenes in the Square’ will delight movie lovers across every generation and we look forward to welcoming visitors to explore
this wonderful trail.”
Mark adds, “Following its launch early next year and a six month pilot period, we hope to welcome further characters to the square for years to come, so watch this space for your favourite movies, television or theatre scenes to come to life in the heart of London.”
‘Scenes in the Square’ will launch in late February 2020 and will be a free, fully accessible trail for film lovers of all ages. Several of the eight statues will also be illuminated at night, whilst the trail will also be enhanced with interactive content including maps, video and music.