A little to the west of London, the mighty Thor battles evil dwarves, Helena Bonham Carter sings "Master of the House" in a near- perfect recreation of French Revolution-era Paris, and James Bond is on the pull.
The Pinewood Studios Group, which includes former rival Shepperton, still manages to persuade some of the biggest movies in the world to shoot in the UK. Thor: The Dark World is likely to be a monster hit after the record-breaking success of The Avengers, in which the hammer-wielding god was one of the main superheroes; Les Misrables has been picking up major gongs during the awards season; and Skyfall was such a monster hit that 007 should keep drinking martinis for another 50 years.
But Pinewood wants more. Next month, the studios, which have been run by chief executive Ivan Dunleavy since 2000, will submit a planning application to build new facilities next to Pinewood's existing studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire.
Dunleavy argues that this will ensure that Britain's film industry remains competitive in an increasingly global market where high-tech blockbusters need the most up-to-date studios available. There will be additional film and television stages, car parking, workshops and production offices.
Producers of television programmes with budgets of more than 1m are also looking to take advantage of a 25 per cent tax break that comes into force in April, meaning that there is a need for far more filming space in the UK.
However, Pinewood recently failed to expand its empire, when in 2011 it spent 7.1m before the Government refused permission for a 200m development. Pinewood has since cleared a separate site and a spokesman confirms that it is "dotting the Is and crossing the Ts" on its latest proposal.
The original project would have created 10,000 jobs over a decade and house buyers would even have had the opportunity to live in a mini-Hollywood with the construction of 420 homes. …