Warner Bros. completed its purchase of Leavesden Studios, and has plans for an in-excess of £100 million re-building and expansion programme that will create Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden – a permanent UK film production base for the company. The announcement was made by Barry Meyer, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer and Alan Horn, President & Chief Operating Officer, Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.’ purchase makes it the only Hollywood studio to possess and operate its own production facility in the UK. 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 UK and be able to accommodate a number of major Warner Bros. and third party film productions each year as well as TV and advertising productions.
Warner Bros. has used the studio facilities just outside Watford, north-west of London, since 2000, including the production of all eight Harry Potter films as well as many other recent Warner Bros. hits, including “The Dark Knight” and “Inception.”
As well as employing thousands of people year on year, this involvement has attracted close to £1.9billion in film production budgets, equating to almost 40% of the UK’s inward investment in film production over that time.
Having received all necessary planning approvals from Three Rivers District Council and Watford Borough Council, Warner Bros. is now set to build on that contribution with the re-development of the 170 acre site that will see the refurbishment and expansion of the studio, increasing its ability to provide for services such as visual effects, prosthetics, animatronics and film editing, as well as expanding the external filming and production areas.
This commitment will help to sustain the level of employment generated by the productions based at the studio of approximately 1500 jobs and the creation of around 300 more including building and specialist contractors.
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 UK.
Initially this will be a behind-the-scenes look at the Harry Potter movie series and, by prior booking, will give the general public the ability to tour several of the original Harry Potter film sets at the studio where all eight movies were produced. There, guests will have the opportunity to witness the exceptional creativity and craftsmanship that went into bringing the film series to life and discover the career opportunities that exist within this dynamic and growing industry.
Barry Meyer, Chairman and CEO, Warner Bros. said, ““For 86 years, Warner Bros. has been intrinsically involved in film production in the UK. Our purchase of Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden and our multi-million pound investment in creating a state-of-the-art, permanent UK film production base further demonstrates our long-term commitment to, and confidence in, the skills and creativity of the UK film industry.”
Alan Horn, President & COO, Warner Bros. said, “From ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ to ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2,’ the roll call of movies made at Leavesden is nothing short of spectacular. Over the last decade, it has been a place of incredible ambition, boundless energy and unprecedented success and I’m delighted that we are going to build on that rich legacy with many more productions in the future.”
Josh Berger, President & Managing Director, Warner Bros. UK, Ireland and Spain, commented, “At a time when investment in the UK is critical, Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden is a significant endorsement of the creative talent here in the UK. It will generate jobs, inward investment and interest in an industry that is respected the world over.”
Roy Button OBE, SVP & Managing Director, Warner Bros. Productions Ltd added, “It is fitting that as we reach the conclusion of the Harry Potter movie franchise – a series indelibly linked to Leavesden – we’re extending and updating the studio and, at the same time, preserving some of the extraordinary film sets and props our teams have created for some of the most successful movies of recent times.”
Dan Dark, SVP & Managing Director, Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, added, “Our exciting re-development plans give us the opportunity to create a truly world-class facility in the UK. We are grateful that Watford Council, Three Rivers Council, Hertfordshire County Council and the local communities recognise and value the contribution that Warner Bros. has already made in the area, and we look forward to playing our part in sustaining and growing the region’s reputation for filmmaking excellence in the coming years.”
Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden has significant local advantages for filming. It is a single site with the scale, security and privacy for outdoor and indoor filming. It is also located within the Greater London & Hertfordshire film and media cluster, the critical catchment area for film technicians, crews and associated supply chain businesses. The re-development of the site commences with immediate effect and the new facility, Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, will open in mid 2012.
About Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Warner Bros Entertainment Inc. is a fully integrated broad-based entertainment company and a global leader in the creation, production, distribution, licensing, and marketing of all forms of entertainment and their related businesses, across all current and emerging media and platforms. A Time Warner Company, Warner Bros. Entertainment stands at the forefront of every aspect of the entertainment industry from feature films to television, home entertainment/DVD, animation, product and brand licensing, and interactive entertainment.
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