Warner Bros is to invest £200m in expanding the British studio that brought Margot Robbie’s Barbie Land to life.

Filmmakers Warner Bros Discovery said it planned to grow production capacity by 50pc at Leavesden studios, near Watford. The investment will add 400,000 square feet of space with 10 new sound stages.

The US company said construction would begin in 2024 with the sets to be completed by 2027. 

Warner Bros said the expansion would create 4,000 jobs both at the studios and in the local area, and add £200m to the economy.

The newly expanded studio will become home to Warner Bros’ DC Studios division, which includes its Justice League and Aquaman franchises.

Film producers James Gunn and Peter Safran, chairmen of DC Studios, will consult on the construction.

Originally an old World War II airfield, Leavesden’s aircraft hangars were converted to studio space in the 1990s for the filming of the James Bond movie Goldeneye.

Leavesden has since hosted filming for the Harry Potter series and is the home of its UK studio tour. Warner Bros purchased the whole site in 2010.

Recent productions at the site include Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Ms Robbie, which has grossed more than £1bn at the box office.

The Hertfordshire studio hosted sets for Barbie Land, which included a vast pink wonderland featuring 25ft-tall “Dreamhouses”. Production largely relied on physical sets built in the UK, rather than CGI.

Other titles filmed at the studios include Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon.

The expansion plans were announced by Warner Bros during a visit to California by Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, who met with Simon Robinson, the chief operating officer of the media group.

Mr Hunt said the US company’s “ambitious plan to grow its Leavesden studio is a huge vote of confidence in the UK - creating thousands of jobs and growing our economy”.

The new investment in Leavesden will extend the production space from 1.14m square feet to 1.78m square feet.

Simon Robinson, chief operating officer of Warner Bros Discovery Studios, said the new production facilities would be “home to even more incredible storytelling for both film and television projects”.

The expansion comes as the film and TV industry face huge delays to new blockbusters amid joint strikes by writers and acting unions in Hollywood in a dispute over pay and the rise of artificial intelligence.

It also follows a row between studio executives and UK officials over an increase in the rateable value of production spaces in Britain, which is used to calculate business rates. Production companies have dubbed the rate rise as a “studio tax”.


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