Warner plows $186 mil into U.K. facility
LONDON — Warner Bros.’ Leavesden Studios, the lensing home of the “Harry Potter” franchise, formally opened for business on Monday.The major plowed £120 million ($186 million) into the facility, which is situated just outside of London in Watford, Hertfordshire, and offers a variety of soundstages, which range in size from 10,000 to 36,000 square feet. The new studio is spread across a secure 200-acre site and is, Warner Bros. said, “the first of its kind to be built in the U.K. in 70 years,” and aims to “secure the future of over a third of the dedicated major feature film production stage space in the U.K.” Leavesden studios will be open for biz to all kinds of productions, not just Warner Bros. projects, including commercials, music videos, TV shows and feature pics. The major has shot all eight “Harry Potter” pics at the site in addition to “Sherlock Holmes.” In addition to some of the largest sound stages in Blighty, the new studio houses one of the largest heated underwater filming tanks in Europe and a 100-acre back-lot. “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 m.d. of Warner Bros. U.K., 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.” In March, Warner Bros. unveiled “The Making of Harry Potter,” a walking tour which takes guests behind the scenes of the franchise, to the public, which is based on the same site.