Warner Bros has announced it is investing £100m ($160m) in the home of the Harry Potter films, Leavesden Studios situated just outside London, cementing the studio's long-lasting relationship with the UK.
The investment, about which further details will be known tomorrow, follows Warner's announcement earlier this year of its plans to acquire the studios, where it shot numerous films including the entire Harry Potter series, The Dark Knight, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Inception. The investment is set to safeguard the future of the site as a working film studio including the 1,500 existing jobs as well as creating 300 new ones. It is also expected to bring improvements to some of Leavesden's departments, namely visual effects, prosthetics and animatronics.
Also as part of the redevelopment, the studio is to open a permanent exhibition dedicated to Potter. The exhibit will host memorabilia from the films including sets, costumes, creatures and props from the successful series.
Leavesden Film Studios, near Watford in Hertfordshire, was constructed on the site of a former Rolls-Royce factory. The 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye was the first film to be filmed at the site but its most long standing guest of recent years has been the world famous child wizard.
Warner Bros has used the studios since 2000 and since then has reportedly spent £1.9bn on productions shot in the UK, becoming the single most important investor in the British film industry. The acquisition of Leavesden has also made Warner Bros the first Hollywood studio to have a permanent production base in Europe for over 30 years; the last studio to purchase a production space in the UK was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) who bought Elstree Way Studios in the 1940s.
"The fact the entire Harry Potter series shot in London and the UK has been a wonderful success story for us. Now with Warner Bros investing heavily in a production base in the UK is fantastic news for both our domestic industry and the country's wider economy, it is also testament to the talent and expertise we have in London and the UK and something we should feel very proud of" said Adrian Wootton, Chief Executive of Film London.
The new and improved Leavesden is expected to reopen in mid 2012.