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Elstree to add two soundstages

Studios aim to attract more Hollywood pics

The U.K.’s Elstree Studios is planning a £10 million ($15 million) expansion to accommodate increasing Hollywood demand.

The expansion will add a 15,000-square-foot stage and a 30,000-square-foot stage to its lots, which hosted “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones” and “The Shining” in its heyday.

Elstree managing director Roger Morris said the 85-year-old studio’s forward order book includes more features this year than in each of the past 10.

Warner Bros.’ “Sherlock Holmes 2” is skedded to lense in August while the last financial year saw Universal descend on its lots with “Kick-Ass.” Indie Brit pic “Harry Brown” and King George VI biopic “The King’s Speech” also shot at the studio.

“We already possess two of the finest film stages in Europe, and we want to duplicate them,” said Morris, a former television m.d. at Elstree’s rival Pinewood-Shepperton. “We will also be refurbishing our ‘Indiana Jones’ stage as this year marks the 30th anniversary of work beginning on ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’?”

Other factors are contributing to the bump in demand.

Elstree neighbors Leavesden Film Studios, a film and media complex in west Hertfordshire some 18 miles northwest of London.

Leavesden recently received planning permission to develop studios for Warner Bros. and now Elstree is looking to benefit from the inward investment from the area and wants to have ample capacity ready for an influx of demand.

In recent years, Elstree has housed TV programs including “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “Big Brother.”

Now that “Brother’s” 10-year run in the U.K. is ending, Morris says the studio will again focus on features.

“We’ll be busier after ‘Big Brother’ than we’ve ever been before,” he said. “Right now, the idea is to get the requirement right for major films that require four or five stages to be based here.”

Morris adds that Elstree will continue to house smaller Brit pics: Producer Mark Cooper’s $10 million soccer drama “Will” and $1.5 million comedy “Bulla,” helmed by Steve Lawson and starring Ricky Grover both shot at Elstree.

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