After the devastating news that the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt was axing the UK Film Council there has at last been some good news for the UK film industry. US film giant Warner Bros has unveiled plans to invest £100m in the UK’s Leavesden Studios, safeguarding the future of the site where the Hollywood giant shot the Harry Potter movies and Inception.
The purchase of Leavesden by Warner Bros will safeguard 1,500 jobs and create another 300 as they look to develop the 170-acre site near Watford. It includes a back-lot that will account for about a third of the dedicated stage space for major film production in the UK.
Once redeveloped the site will re-open in mid-2012 and include two new sound stages to house a Harry Potter tour including sets, costumes, creatures and props. Warner Bros also plan to invest heavily in Leavesden’s visual effects, prosthetics and animatronics departments.
“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,” said Josh Berger, the president and managing director of Warner Bros UK, Ireland and Spain. “It will generate jobs, inward investment and interest in an industry that is respected the world over.”
Sine 2000 Warner Bros have made all eight Potter films and parts of other films including The Dark Knight and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Leavesden. The studio has spent £1.9bn on UK films in the past decade, and is the single most important investor in the British film industry.
Warner Bros has increased its production activity in the UK over the last year. They recently acquired Shed Media, maker of shows including Supernanny and Wife Swap.
Warner Bros Chief Executive Barry Meyer had this to say: “For 86 years Warner Bros has been intrinsically involved in film production in the UK. Our multimillion-pound investment in creating a state-of-the art, permanent UK production base further demonstrates our long-term commitment to, and confidence in, the skills and creativity of the UK film industry.”