Hollywood sci-fi thriller filmed at Upper Heyford air base out now

The former air base in Upper Heyford was taken over by Hollywood film crews for sci-fi thriller Annihilation in 2016. Photo: Pegasus NNL-181203-170904001
The former air base in Upper Heyford was taken over by Hollywood film crews for sci-fi thriller Annihilation in 2016. Photo: Pegasus NNL-181203-170904001

A critically-acclaimed, Hollywood sci-fi thriller partly filmed at the old air base in Upper Heyford is released in the UK today (Monday, March 12).

Annihilation, starring Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh, was released in the US last month, but British viewers now have the chance to see it on Netflix.

Atmospheric scenes in the movie were shot over three days at RAF Upper Heyford, a military airfield used in both world wars, in 2016, as revealed by the Banbury Guardian.

Written and directed by Alex Garland and based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation tells the story of a group of scientists on a secret mission - the trailer features footage shot at the air base. 

Back in the 1970s, Heyford Park was inhabited by 15,000 American servicemen and was the largest airfield in Europe during the Cold War.

The abandoned air base has appeared in many TV and film productions including Octopussy, Lewis and Muppets Most Wanted - the third series of cult TV show Humans will feature it.

The former air base in Upper Heyford was taken over by Hollywood film crews for sci-fi thriller Annihilation in 2016. Photo: Pegasus NNL-181203-170853001

The former air base in Upper Heyford was taken over by Hollywood film crews for sci-fi thriller Annihilation in 2016. Photo: Pegasus NNL-181203-170853001

In order for the film cameras to roll however, specialist consent was needed and consultants Pegasus Group secured Scheduled Monument Consent for the owners, the Dorchester Group.

Pegasus heritage planner Alex Robinson said: “The project involved close liaison between our client, Historic England, on site set designers and location managers to ensure that temporary works were fully reversible and had no lasting impact on the scheduled monuments.”

The temporary works included covering roadways with gravel, mud and bark; putting up fake fences and guard towers; and covering old bomb storage buildings with mould like substances.

Alex added: “In this case, it was a question of achieving the movie makers’ vision of an abandoned military base with a sci fi twist, while ensuring the ‘set’ could be totally reversed when the crew moved out.”