Warner Bros. Discovery is giving DC Studios a primary production hub at its U.K.-based TV and film studio Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, the home of HBO’s “House of the Dragon,” amid a sprawling plan to expand the location by more than 50% capacity and 10 sound stages.
The expansion, announced Thursday by the David Zaslav-led media giant, will include the addition of 400,000 square feet of production and support space, and increase the total stage count from 19 to 29 and overall space from 1.14 million square feet to 1.78 million. WBD is scheduled break ground on the project in the second quarter of 2024, and it is expected to be completed in 2027.
DC Studios co-chairmen and CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran will consult with the Leavesden expansion team to “ensure that their ideas are incorporated” into the new facilities.
In January, Gunn and Safran detailed their first planned projects for DC Studios, including Gunn’s “Superman: Legacy” (slated for a 2025 release), a Batman and Robin movie, a Wonder Woman prequel series and a Green Lantern mystery series, as well as titles featuring lesser known characters, including Booster Gold and Swamp Thing.
WBD did not note which of these projects, and what non-DC titles, are expected to shoot at Leavesden amid its expansion plans.
Along with “House of the Dragon,” WBD titles recently filmed at Leavesden include Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and the upcoming “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.”
WBD estimates the Leavesden expansion will create 4,000 new direct and indirect jobs across the U.K. and grow the studio’s contribution to the U.K. economy by more than £200 million, raising the total value of film and television production at Leavesden to more than £600 million annually.
“Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden is globally recognized for its exceptional soundstages and facilities, and with this planned expansion adding significant capacity and capabilities, it will be home to even more incredible storytelling for both film and television projects,” Warner Bros. Discovery Studios COO Simon Robinson said. “We are proud to not only be growing our productions in Leavesden and making it the main hub for DC Studios, but also to be growing our economic and community contributions to the UK’s creative sector.”
The plans have been developed in consultation with Three Rivers District Council and Watford Borough Council “with careful consideration given to prioritizing sustainability,” per WBD. The company notes it “remains committed to skills development through CrewHQ,” an initiative launching later in 2023 to “nurture workforce development in film and television production.” A training center at Leavesden will support the existing crew and “create career pathways for people of all backgrounds and foster the next generation of talent using the wealth of industry expertise on site.”
U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt was on site at the WB lot in Burbank Thursday to meet with WBD executive vice president of worldwide studio operations Dan Dark regarding the expansion plans, sources tell Variety.
“The enormous strength of our creative industries sees films and television shows made in the U.K. reaching cinemas and front rooms across the world, including ‘Barbie’ and the ‘House of the Dragon’ series,” Hunt said in a statement regarding the deal. “Warner Bros. Discovery’s ambitious plan to grow its Leavesden studio is a huge vote of confidence in the U.K. – creating thousands of jobs and growing our economy – and means that British-made entertainment will continue to delight and entertain global audiences.”
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