Popeye Village: an abandoned set from the 1980 film claimed and repurposed as a theme park by creative locals.2 min read
We are in Anchor Bay, 3 km from the village core of Mellieħa, Malta.
The set from Robert Altman’s film Popeye, shot in Malta, was never fully struck and remains on the island as a sort of (misplaced) relic. The live-action film based on the popular comic strip and animation character, a spinach-loving sailor, marked the film debut of Robin Williams in the title role.
The construction of the film set began in June 1979. For the occasion, over 20 wooden structures were built with the tree trunk logs imported from Holland and wooden shingles brought in from Canada, and a construction crew of 165 working was needed to build the village. Eight tons of nails and 250 gallons of paint were used in constructing the set and, in addition, a 60–75 m breakwater was built around Anchor Bay’s mouth to protect the set from high seas during the filming.
The set was completed in seven months, filming started on January 23, 1980 and wrapped later that year on June 19. The film, based on the comic strips by E. C. Segar, is set around the fictional village of Sweethaven, where Popeye the sailor arrives in an attempt to find his long-lost father.
The film itself was a box-office bomb, but despite it had mixed reviews, Popeye Village remains a popular tourist attraction.
And, eventually, rather than tearing the set down or leaving it abandoned, the islanders saw it for what it was: a pre-built theme park. So they took over the abandoned set, hired actors, and the so-called Popeye Village was born.
Website 👉🏼 https://popeyemalta.com
Author’s notes: Popeye Village is open to the public seven days a week and, apart from the film set itself, has a number of attractions for the visitor including shows, rides and museums, and also play houses for children. Every fifteen minutes when the weather permits, visitors can enjoy a fifteen-minute boat trip around Anchor Bay where one can photograph the scenery and view Popeye Village from the sea.
Boat trips and some parts of the village are not open during off seasons or when the weather is bad.