Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden
Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden (formerly known as Leavesden Film Studios; colloquially Leavesden Studios or simply Leavesden), is a film and media complex owned by Warner Bros.. The studios and backlot sit on the site of the former Rolls-Royce plc factory at Leavesden Aerodrome, which was an important centre of aircraft production during World War II. It is situated in south west Hertfordshire approximately 18 miles (29 km) northwest of central London, in Watford.
Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, is one of only a few places in the U.K. where large scale productions can be made. The studios contain approximately 500,000 sq ft (50,000 m2) of flexible space which includes stage space, production office space and support buildings, along with an extensive 80-acre (320,000 m2) backlot which offers a 180 degree uninterrupted horizon, favourable for exterior sets.
The 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye was the first film to be filmed at Leavesden. The site was acquired as the series' traditional home, Pinewood, was fully booked with other productions. The production gutted the factory and turned it into a studio. This process is shown on the 2006 DVD's special features.
One of the more noticeable outdoor sets constructed at Leavesden is a row of 10 houses (5 per side) along a street which was created as "Privet Drive" for the Harry Potter film series. As of September 2012, this set is still visible on the Google Maps and Bing Maps aerial views of the area, along with the Hagrid's Hut and Hogwart's Bridge outdoor sets.
In November 2010, Warner Bros. completed its purchase of Leavesden Studios, and announced plans to invest more than £100m on the site that they frequently occupied. The studios will make Warner Bros. the only Hollywood film studio with a permanent base in the UK. They also plan to create a permanent exhibition to the Harry Potter series in turn creating 300 jobs. A full scale refurbishment and re-build is currently underway and the production facilities are due to reopen to film and television work in 2012.
Films that have made use of the facilities include:
- GoldenEye (1995)
- Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)
- Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)
- Sleepy Hollow (1999)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
- The Dark Knight (2008)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
- Sherlock Holmes (2009)
- Inception (2010)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (2011)
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
- All You Need is Kill (2013)
A studio tour, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, opened to the public on March 31, 2012 with a grand opening event, attended by the Harry Potter film series cast and crew members Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davis, David Thewlis, Helen McCrory, George Harris, Nick Moran, Natalia Tena, David Bradley, Alfie Enoch, Harry Melling, David Heyman, David Barron, David Yates, Alfonso Cuaron and Mike Newell.
With each tour session typically lasting three hours, the studio tour has the capacity to handle 5,000 visitors daily. Despite Warner Bros. being the film company behind Harry Potter, the tour is not a styled as a theme park, due to Universal Studios obtaining the rights to build Harry Potter theme parks, such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, in Orlando, Florida. The tour, which was designed and produced by Burbank-based Thinkwell Group in close collaboration with Warner Bros. and the filmmakers, includes major sets, props and costumes from the Harry Potter film series, including the Great Hall, Dumbledore's Office, Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, Gryffindor Common Room and Boys' Dormitory, Hagrid's Hut and a 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts Castle, which Anita Singh of The Daily Telegraph described as "the highlight" of the tour. Liz Thomas, of the Daily Mail, was critical of the tour's cost, describing it as "a somewhat less magical price tag".
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter has won several awards since its opening, including a 2013 Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement, 2013 UKinbound Award for Individual Attraction of the Year, 2012 Event Technology Silver Award for Best Use of Handheld Technology, 2012 UK Customer Experience Award for Best Leisure & Retail Experience, and 2012 Group Leisure Award for Best UK Attraction. The Studio Tour has also been honored with awards for its lighting design, including the 2013 Lighting Design Award for Lighting for Leisure. In addition, the Studio Tour was named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Entertainment Design Projects of 2012 by EntertainmentDesigner.com.
Although the tour currently only focuses on Harry Potter, Warner Bros. have highlighted the possibility to expand the tour to other Warner Bros. franchises in the years to come. Although the possibility of a full Warner Bros. theme park has been ruled out due to planning restrictions and lack of space, Warner Bros. have said that they would like to add more interactive rides during the expansion, similar to Universal Studios Florida. A hotel is also expected to open next to the plot, but it is unclear whether this will be operated by Warner Bros.
- "Harry Potter filming locations - Leavesden Studios".
- "Fire on Harry Potter Set". National Ledger. March 22, 2010. Retrieved Mar 24, 2010.
- Jaafar, Ali (2010-01-27). "Warner to buy Leavesden Studios". Variety.
- Sabbagh, Dan; Sweney, Mark (9 November 2010). "Warner Bros buys Harry Potter studios in £100m boost for UK films". The Guardian (London).
- Press Releases- Newsroom - Time Warner
- the studiotour.com - Productions shot at the studio
- List revealed for Warner Bros. Studio Tour London The Making of Harry Potter grand opening
- "Cast and Crew attends Warner Bros. Studio Tour The Making of Harry Potter grand opening"
- Thomas, Liz (2012-03-14). "The magic of Harry Potter: See inside the studios where the movies were filmed (and the biggest disappearing act will be £100 for a family ticket and a wand)". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
- Sabbagh, Dan (2012-06-10). "Josh Berger on Leavesden film studios: Harry Potter's new chamber of secrets". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
- Singh, Anita (2012-03-14). "Harry Potter studio tour: first review". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
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