U.K. Film Industry Ponders its Post-'Harry Potter' Prospects

Warner Bros. plans to continue its overseas support with a U.K.-based studio, but will it be enough to make up for the impending loss of the mega-successful franchise?

Global movie-going audiences will undoubtedly feel a communal sense of loss after next year's climax of the Harry Potter film series with the July 15, 2011 release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, yet perhaps no one will miss the mega-money-making franchise more than Britain's film industry, because although the film series is in the hands of Hollywood studio Warner Bros., many of the key creative forces behind these films are British.

"The Harry Potter franchise and Warner Brothers' support has been one of the cornerstones for building the U.K. [visual effects] industry," Alex Hope, managing director of Double Negative, one of the effects houses used by Warners, tells the U.K.'s Independent newspaper. "Over the 10 years that British companies have been working on the franchise, the U.K. has been transformed into a world leader in the VFX field."

However, despite preparing to say goodbye to a franchise whose first six films have so far generated approximately $5.4 billion at the worldwide box office, the British movie industry remains optimistic, the Independent reports. That positive outlook undoubtedly stems from this month's announcement that Warner Bros. has purchased the London-adjacent Leavesden Studios, the longtime home studio of the Harry Potter franchise, and plans for a $160 million expansion program to create Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden. The expensive project seems to hint to British filmmakers that Warners isn't planning to abandon the U.K. once Harry Potter has cast his last onscreen spell.

With the Bond franchise on hold -- or at least not due until 2012 -- and Harry Potter about to face his last big screen adventure, Warners' support couldn't have come at a better time.

Then again, with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Captain America: The First Avenger having recently tapped into the U.K.'s vast filmmaking resources and locations, other franchises (and possible franchises) continue to expand and develop, and Harry's inevitable exit may not have as big of an impact as initially feared.