Warner Bros. to Spend $160 Mil to Expand U.K. 'Harry Potter' Studio

They'll install two new sound stages and offer behind-the-scenes tours beginning in 2012.

LONDON -- Warner Bros. is to announce the completion of its purchase of Leavesden Studios, the longtime home of the Harry Potter franchise in the U.K. and unveil plans for a £100 million ($160 million) plus re-building and expansion program to create Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden.

It will mark a permanent U.K. movie production base for the company. Warner Bros, chairman and CEO Barry Meyer and Alan Horn, president and COO of the studio are expected in London on Wednesday to make it official. THR first reported on the plans in January this year.

Warner Bros.’ purchase makes it the only Hollywood studio to possess and operate its own production facility in the U.K.

Once complete, Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden will enjoy one of the largest back-lots in Europe, represent approximately a third of the dedicated stage space for major film production in the U.K. and be able to accommodate a slew of major Warner Bros. and third party film productions each year as well as T.V. and advertising productions.

In addition to all eight Harry Potter films, Warner Bros. also shot The Dark Knight and Inception there.

The studio has secured al necessary planning approvals from Three Rivers District Council and Watford Borough Council for its plans.

As part of the redevelopment, two new sound stages will be built to house and display many of the iconic sets, costumes, creatures and props from various Warner Bros. films shot in the U.K.

Meyer said: "Our purchase of Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden and our multi-million pound investment in creating a state-of-the-art, permanent U.K. film production base further demonstrates our long-term commitment to, and confidence in, the skills and creativity of the U.K. film industry."

The development will mean studio facilities groups such as Pinewood Shepperton, Ealing Studios and Three Mills have renewed competition to attract big budget studio and independent productions.

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