Hollywood directors to stage Olympic ceremonies

Hollywood film makers Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry are to have leading roles in the opening and closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Games, organisers announced today

Boyle, the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire director, was asked to take charge of the opening ceremony as artistic director while Daldry, director of big screen hits such as Billy Elliot and The Reader, will be one of the four key executive producers of the showpiece opening and closing ceremonies.

This team will oversee both ceremonies at each of the Olympic and Paralympic events.

Greater Manchester-born Boyle, 53, who became hot property in Hollywood when his Mumbai-set film became an Oscar sensation, said: "I'm honoured to have been invited to be the artistic director for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

"It's a completely unique opportunity to contribute to what I'm sure are going to be a fantastic Games, I'm really excited to be involved."

Dorset-born Daldry, 49, is joined by Mark Fisher, the concert, theatre and Beijing 2008 Games designer, Grammy and Bafta-award nominated TV director Hamish Hamilton plus Catherine Ugwu, producer of the 2006 Asian Games and the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, on the executive production team.

Daldry said: "Myself and my co-executive producers will ensure there is creative continuity across all four ceremonies, that the public have real engagement and that we continue to attract into key roles the best talent in the world. I'm delighted to be part of the team."

Daldry is the creative production lead. Fisher is the executive producer for design, Hamilton leads on broadcast while Ugwu is the executive producer for production.

"These Games are bringing together world-class British talent," London 2012 chair Lord Coe said as the top teams for the ceremonies were unveiled at an east London studio.

He said: "Each one of these individuals would hold their own on the worldwide stage and they are joining names like children's author Michael Morpurgo who has created the story behind our highly successful mascots. We are delighted with the team we have brought together to deliver our ceremonies in 2012."

They have a big job on their hands as the ceremonies will involve thousands of athletes, be watched by the world and be one of the memorable ways in which the Games will be judged.

A billion people worldwide tuned in to watch the 2008 Beijing Olympic opening ceremony. The athletes' parade at the Olympic opening ceremony involves 10,000 athletes from 205 nations while 4,000 athletes from 162 nations take part in the Paralympic opening ceremony.

An artistic director for the Olympic closing ceremony and one for the Paralympic opening and closing ceremonies will be appointed later this year.

The 3 Mills Studios, in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium, will be the production centre for the London 2012 Ceremonies Team. It will also be the production base for the Victory Ceremonies and Torch Relays, London 2012 said.

In the past the 20-acre, 14-stage complex has been used for rehearsing West End shows including the Billy Elliot and Oliver! musicals.

Normal film, TV and rehearsal work will continue at the studios while the ceremonies team are developing and rehearsing the 2012 productions in part of the complex in Bow, east London.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "The opening and closing ceremonies are the jewels in the crown of any Olympics and Paralympics and are one of the benchmarks against which all Games are judged.

"I am very pleased that British directors and producers of such outstanding international calibre and acclaim have given their backing to London 2012. With their creativity and expertises on board, I'm sure that London's showpiece events will make Britain proud."

London mayor Boris Johnson described them as "a brilliant team" adding: "They exemplify some of the greatest attributes we have - creativity, vision, and intelligence - which will be critical to ensuring shows that are as stunning as they are uniquely British."

Ownership of the 3 Mills Studios is to switch from the London Development Agency (LDA) to the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC) as the number of workers and production volunteers there is set to swell ahead of the Games.

London 2012 staff from its culture, ceremonies, education and live sites teams are moving there in October 2010. Around 450 full time staff plus hundreds of contractors and production volunteers are expected to be based there in 2011.

OPLC chief executive Andrew Altman said: "3 Mills Studios is among the hotbed of talent and emerging artists that surround the Olympic Park. The rich cultural heritage of the Studios, combined with its renowned production facilities, make it a natural fit for the creative powerhouse that is the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies team.

"Boosting London's creative and media industries is a significant part of our vision for the Olympic Park. What could be a stronger signal of our commitment than the creation of hundreds of jobs at 3 Mills to produce a series of spectacular shows that will be watched by a world-wide audience of more than a billion."

A standalone production company called London 2012 Ceremonies Ltd has been created to produce the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2012 Games.

It includes London 2012 plus the firms of FiveCurrents and Unspun in association with Arcadis via their consortium called Flow Productions Limited who will work with the executive producers and artistic directors and oversee the financial, administrative and procurement processes.