Waner Bros buys British Harry Potter studio

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Hollywood production giant Warner Bros announced Monday that it has bought Britain's Leavesden Studios, home of the Harry Potter movies.

The US company said it will fund a 100-million-pound (161.2 million dollar, 115.9 million euro) expansion of the studio located in Watford, north London, which will safeguard 1,500 jobs and create another 300.

"For 86 years, Warner Bros has been intrinsically involved in film production in the UK," the firm's chairman and chief executive Barry Meyer said.

The CEO added that the purchase "demonstrates our long-term commitment to, and confidence in, the skills and creativity of the UK film industry."

"Pottermania" is once more sweeping Britain with the seventh and penultimate film in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, premiering in London on Thursday.

Redevelopment of the site will include two new stages to host a Harry Potter set tour and investment in the studio's visual effects, prosthetics and animatronics departments.

As well as all of the Harry Potter films, the studio has also been used for filming scenes from "The Dark Knight" and "Inception".

The studio will account for around a third of Britain's total film stage space when the redevelopment is completed in 2012.

The announcement is a huge shot in the arm for the British film industry which is reeling from the government's decision to axe the UK Film Council, a non-departmental public body set up in 2000 to help fund British movies.

Finalisation of the purchase is due to be announced on Wednesday.

© 2010 AFP

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