Construction Cost & Project Management

10 movies featuring construction


March 10, 2015

Given the current skills shortage in the industry, there are calls for construction to ‘enliven’ its act in order to attract fresh talent. But in the glamorous world of the movies they love building things and we’ve identified 10 films where construction plays a part.

Evan Almighty (2007) – Directed by Tom Shadyac, stars Steve Carrell, Morgan Freeman

Newly elected congressman Evan Baxter (Carrell) prays to God to give him the opportunity to do great deeds. And God, in the form of Morgan Freeman, gives him his first major project – the construction of an ark in preparation for a great flood! The ship, some 140m in length, did indeed float but the movie rather sank without a trace, grossing less than its $174m budget.

Casino Royale (2006) – Directed by Martin Campbell, stars Daniel Craig, Dame Judi Dench

Daniel Craig was a newcomer to the role of 007 but he bursts onto the screen in spectacular fashion with an extraordinary chase scene through a construction site (filmed in the Bahamas). Freerunner Sebastien Foucan is Bond’s quarry and both violate more health & safety regulations in 5 minutes than you’d see in a lifetime.

Locke (2013) – Directed by Steven Knight, stars Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman

This was Steven Knight’s directorial debut and his remarkable film, made on a miniscule budget of less than $2m, takes place almost entirely in a BMW X5 being driven along the M6. Tom Hardy plays a construction foreman who manages to supervise a concrete pour over the phone whilst also confessing to his wife about an affair with a now pregnant colleague, whom he also reassures as she enters a premature labour. Who says men can’t multi-task!

Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) – Directed by David Lean, stars Alec Guinness, William Holden

Alec Guinness stars in this WW2 drama as a British colonel intent on showing his Japanese captors just what his men are capable of building. He oversees the construction of a railway bridge, oblivious to the fact that the Allies plan to destroy it. Lean’s movie won 7 Academy Awards (including best picture) and features the famous Colonel Bogey march.

The Terminal (2004) – Directed by Steven Spielberg, stars Tom Hanks, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, a man from Eastern Europe who arrives in New York as his own country sinks into turmoil. He finds himself stranded in the airport terminal, unable to enter the US or return home. Whilst there he turns his hand to a bit of plumbing and plastering, impressing the local foreman and gaining employment on the new terminal extension. Spielberg decided to construct his own fake building in preference to filming in a real airport.

Witness (1985) – Directed by Peter Weir, stars Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis

Police detective Harrison Ford is on the run, having been shot and wounded by corrupt cops from the drugs squad. He finds refuge in an Amish community and gets roped into a day-long barn-raising project. It’s a great piece of project management, highly organised and efficient, and a reminder of what’s possible when you’ve got a limited budget and Indiana Jones on your team!

Flight of the Phoenix (1965) – Directed by Robert Aldrich, stars James Stewart, Sir Richard Attenborough, Hardy Kruger

More of a cannibalisation than a new build, FOTP focuses on a group of men marooned in the Sahara desert after their plane crashes. One of the men (an aeronautical engineer) claims he can rebuild the plane, using the parts they still have, but as the project progresses he lets it slip that his only previous experience involves model aircraft! The principles, he claims, are much the same and the newly reconstituted plane does indeed take flight.

The Great Escape (1963) – Directed by John Sturges, stars Sir Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen et al

A synopsis of one of the most iconic films of all time seems unnecessary, but there are of course three key construction characters in this movie – Tom, Dick and Harry, the names given to the tunnels so ingeniously built by our boys. Tom was eventually chosen for the escape attempt but the tunnel turned out to be some 20 feet too short, a surveying error which ultimately led to its discovery by the Germans.

Busy Bodies (1933) – Directed by Lloyd French, stars Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy

Whoever hired Stan and Ollie to work in their sawmill needs to seriously look at their recruitment policy! Needless to say, the accident-prone duo end up in some scrapes, not least when Stan removes a glued-on paint brush from Ollie’s chin with a carpentry plane.

Titanic (2010) – a film by Ed W Marsh

Harland and Wolff, RMS Titanic’s builders, gave Canadian film director James Cameron access to their original files, enabling the construction of an accurate full-scale model for his 1997 blockbuster movie. This 4 minute documentary by Ed W Marsh uses time lapse photography to chart the model’s construction.


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