In November 2010, Warner Bros acquired the Leavesden studios where all of its Harry Potter films had been shot. At the time, the studio said it would invest more than £100 million to rebuild and expand the London-adjacent facility to serve as its UK base. When I visited this winter, it was basically still a 200-acre construction site, but today the facility has officially opened. I’m told the studio is in discussions on a “major feature film” and a TV series as the first projects out of the gate to shoot at the new site. Scenes from Warner’s The Dark Knight Rises were shot there ahead of the revamp, but the studios will be open to all comers, not just in-house productions. Leavesden has already been attracting tourist attention with The Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making Of Harry Potter, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movies that’s housed just next to the main lot. A press release detailing the Leavesden studios follows:
Warner Bros will open its “The Making of Harry Potter” walking tour at Leavesden, England, the production base of the Harry Potter films, in spring next year. The three-hour-long tour will give fans the chance to see sets, costumes, props and effects used in all 8 Harry Potter movies. Tickets go on sale later this year. Potter fans will be able to walk onto sets including headmaster Dumbledore’s office and the 120ft long Great Hall featuring “the tables and benches used in the films”. The studio tour, first announced last November, is part of Warner Bros’ $161M refit of Leavesden, which is set to be one of the largest studio production facilities in Europe when it opens. Warner Bros plans to use the 250,000 sq ft of soundstages to shoot its blockbusters. The studio won’t be ready for Chris Nolan shooting The Dark Knight Rises this year though. Leavesden will also boast the largest back-lot in Europe. Around 1,500 people are employed at Leavesden when production is in full swing. Warner Bros says that it wants to attract outside film and TV productions as well as its own. It remains to be seen whether there’ll be enough demand to fill the 200-acre Hertfordshire site as well as the sprawling Pinewood Shepperton studio complexes.
Leavesden, the north-west London-based studio where Warner has filmed all 8 Harry Potter movies, is to be refurbished and expanded. A Harry Potter studio tour – offering fans the chance to see the actual sets — will be part of the new Leavesden, which will re-open mid-2012. Warner Bros has got the planning permission it needs to begin building work at the end of this year. Once finished, the revamped Leavesden will represent approximately 1/3 of the dedicated stage space available in the UK for movie production. Rebuilding Leavesden will create 300 new building jobs. Around 1,500 people are employed at Leavesden when production is in full swing. Warner Bros says that it wants to attract outside film and TV productions as well as its own. Given that rival Pinewood Shepperton has just reported “challenging” market conditions in its interim results, with TV bookings dropping off steeply, it remains to be seen whether there’ll be enough demand to fill the 170-acre Leavesden site as well as the sprawling Pinewood Shepperton complexes.