MGM-British Studios

MGM-British was a subsidiary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer initially established at Denham Film Studios in 1936. It was in limbo during the Second World War; however, following the end of hostilities, a facility was acquired in Borehamwood, which remained in use until it was closed in 1970.


The films produced at Denham were A Yank at Oxford (1938), The Citadel (1938), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) and Busman's Honeymoon (US: Haunted Honeymoon, 1940).

Production was initially headed by Michael Balcon. However, he left after a single film and was replaced by Victor Saville. The subsidiary was in abeyance during the war.

Meanwhile, Amalgamated Studios Ltd constructed a large studio on the north side of Elstree Way between 1935 and 1937. A January 1937 deal for eight films to be made for the American studio Columbia Pictures soon collapsed. The company was unable to meet the cost of building work, and sold the facility to the Rank Organisation, which was not interested in using the studios itself, but wanted to stop John Maxwell's rival British International Pictures (BIP) from being able to compete more effectively with its own new Pinewood Studios.[1] During the war, the studios were leased from Rank by the Ministry of Works which used them for storage.[2]


Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer purchased the former Amalgamated Studios, Borehamwood in April 1944.[3] MGM's Edward, My Son (1949), with Spencer Tracy and Deborah Kerr, was the first film to be produced at the studio.

Films made at the MGM-British studios for the parent company include Ivanhoe (1952) and The Dirty Dozen (1967). Production designer Alfred Junge's castle setting for the former was to dominate the Borehamwood skyline for some years afterwards. The facilities were hired by other companies; 20th Century Fox shot the films Anastasia (1956) and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) at Borehamwood. When Ealing Studios sold its own studios in 1956, they moved production of their last few films to MGM-British (with their logo now reading Ealing Films rather than Ealing Studios). Lew Grade's ITC used it for television series, including The Prisoner (1967–68). One of the last films shot there, MGM's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), has been cited as one of the primary causes behind the closure of the studio, owing to Stanley Kubrick's production occupying more and more of the available studio space—eventually using all of it—for almost two years.

The studio was in operation until 1970, one of the last productions being the UFO television series. At that time, MGM made a production and distribution deal with EMI, and began to use its facility (commonly known as Elstree Studios) becoming MGM-EMI, an arrangement which only lasted until 1973, with MGM having a financial interest in only a few films. The Borehamwood site was cleared.

Selected productions


  1. Warren, Patricia (2001). British Film Studios: An Illustrated History. London: B.T. Batsford. p. 82.
  2. Warren, p.83
  3. "MGM Buy Film Studios at Elstree". The Manchester Guardian. April 18, 1944. p. 5.
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