Ten days ago Warner Bros. provided a boost to the New Zealand film industry by confirming that The Hobbit will stay in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Today was the turn of the small grey one, with the studio announcing that it has bought Leavesden Studios and will be spending £100m redeveloping the Hertfordshire site into a state-of-the-art filmmaking hub.
The design below gives some idea of the scale of Warners' plans for the new Leavesden. Says Barry Meyer, the studio's chairman and CEO: "Our multi-million pound investment in creating a state-of-the-art, permanent UK film production base further demonstrates our long-term commitment to the skills and creativity of the UK film industry."
It's significant fillip for UK filmmaking, creating 300 new jobs and transforming Leavesden into one of Europe's biggest back-lots. Leavesden has, of course, been home to many of Warners' UK productions in recent years, including The Dark Knight, Inception and all eight Harry Potter films.
The purchase will mean that there's a part of Blighty that is forever Hogwarts: two new soundstages will be build to house a wealth of movie memorabilia, including sets from Harry Potter. Warner Bros. will be opening the stages to the public for behind-the-scenes tours, which, with any luck, will be conducted by a full-time staff of Death Eaters. Pencil in Easter 2012, the tentative opening date, for your tour.