The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is delighted to announce that the Harry Potter film series will receive the award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema at this year’s Orange British Academy Film Awards. JK Rowling and David Heyman will receive the award on behalf of the franchise during the ceremony at London’s Royal Opera House on Sunday 13 February 2011.

Awarded annually, the award for Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema was introduced in 1978 and is presented in honour of Michael Balcon. The first recipients were the Special Visual Effects team for Superman and others include Kevin Brownlow, Mike Leigh, Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jarman, Working Title, Lewis Gilbert, Channel Four Films and Pinewood & Shepperton Studios.

Starting in 2001 with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the film franchise from Warner Bros. Pictures has defined a decade of British filmmaking. As well as continually introducing exciting new performers to a global audience, the films have built a reputation for showcasing the wealth of British stage and screen acting talent.

The Harry Potter films have not only created stars in front of the camera, but have also highlighted the expertise within the British craft and technical industries, supporting a vast array of jobs throughout production. Their contribution to the British filmmaking industry was underlined last year when Warner Bros. Pictures, which has shepherded the film series from its inception, purchased Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire. Leavesden Studios has been the Harry Potter base for the past ten years.

The films are nothing short of a box office phenomenon, with the first six films in the series grossing over $5.4billion worldwide, making it the top-grossing film franchise of all time. The numbers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, as well as the anticipation for Part 2, opening on July 15, 2011, should ensure its place in film history for years to come.

Their achievements in filmmaking have been repeatedly recognised by industry peers, with the Harry Potter series garnering an array of nominations and awards at events across the globe. As well as notching up seven Oscar nominations, the series has so far garnered a total of 28 BAFTA nominations: five nominations at the British Academy Children’s Awards and 23 at the Film Awards, including this year’s two nominations in the Special Visual Effects and Make Up & Hair categories. In addition, the films have been nominated four times in the Children’s Awards public vote, winning twice (2003 & 2006 for The Chamber of Secrets and Goblet of Fire respectively); and also won the Orange Film of the Year public vote at the Film Awards in 2004 for The Prisoner of Azkaban.

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