Warner Bros. Opens Leavesden Studio Near London for Business

1:04 AM PST 06/11/2012 by Georg Szalai

After a $155 million revamp, the nine-stage complex where the “Harry Potter” franchise was filmed, will house Warner and other productions.

LONDON -  Time Warner’s Warner Bros. said on Monday that it has formally opened its new film and TV studio in Leavesden, outside of London, for business. 

The company said that Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden is “the first of its kind to be built in the U.K. in 70 years” and “secures the future of over a third of the dedicated major feature film production stage space in the U.K. and helps further position the country as a center of filmmaking excellence.”

The Hollywood studio undertook a £100 million ($155 million) revamp of the more than 250,000 square feet complex near Watford, which houses nine stages, to make it as cutting-edge as possible.

Warner Bros. has filmed the Harry Potter series, Sherlock Holmes and Wrath of the Titans here, among others. It used to rent the studio space, but then bought the facility in late 2010.

The stages range in size from 10,000 to 36,000 square feet, and the space also offers a series of workshops. The facilities include one of the largest heated underwater filming tanks in Europe. And the site provides a100 acre back-lot, one of the most extensive in Europe, which the company says can be adapted for any production needs.

The studio is also home to the recently opened "Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter," a walking tour that takes guests behind the scenes of the iconic Harry Potter movie series. 

“Alongside a growing U.K. film, TV and games production slate, the opening of Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden clearly demonstrates the company’s commitment to the U.K. and underlines our belief in the world-class talent that resides on these shores,” said Josh Berger, president and managing director of Warner Bros Entertainment for the UK, Ireland and Spain. “As well as helping to generate inward investment and create new jobs both locally and nationally, this significant infrastructure outlay - probably the single biggest the U.K. film industry has witnessed in decades - will further amplify the U.K.’s reputation as the go-to place for film and TV production.”

Warner Bros. on Monday didn't immediately announce a first production for the studio, but it is working towards announcing first projects. 

At the Leavesden studio, less than 20 miles from London, Warner Bros is hoping to make a handful of movies per year, but also let other productions use the space.

Roy Button, executive vp and managing director, Warner Bros. Productions, said: “Back in 2000, we produced just one movie here in the U.K., last year it was seven, so by adding this important resource to the U.K.’s studio landscape we are helping to meet not just our own production needs, but those of the wider thriving British film industry.”

Dan Dark, senior vp and managing director, Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, said: “Drawing on Warner Bros.’ unparalleled studio-operating experience, we have spent the last 18 months building a state-of-the-art facility that will provide clients with a highly functional and contemporary environment within which to film. The feedback we’ve already received from the production community has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Meanwhile, big London-based studio facility operator Pinewood, Shepperton has been exploring partnerships and investments to possibly expand its offerings and remain competitive in a changing industry.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com
Twitter: @georgszalai
 

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