Warner Bros Discovery has confirmed it plans a major expansion of its Leavesden studio lot, with the UK location set to become the epicenter of DC Studios production.
The media company has spent the past year-plus in cost-cutting mode, delivering $4 billion in cost savings related to the 2022 merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery while also working to reduce debt. At the same time, it has been battling with production rival Pinewood, which is also in expansion mode and looking to attract major U.S. shoots, which are proliferating in the UK. Barbie, one of the top-grossing Warner Bros movies ever made, was shot at Leavesden.
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Plans call for 10 new sound stages and 400,000 new square feet of production and support space, according to a press release. The growth surge will increase the production capacity in Leavesden by more than 50%. The total stage count will rise from 19 to 29 and the overall production space from 1.14 million square feet to 1.78 million square feet.
Work is slated to start in the second quarter of 2024 and wrap up in 2027. The bulked-up WBSL will become a primary production hub for DC Studios, the company said.
The BBC had reported on the expansion plan Wednesday.
“Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden is globally-recognized for its exceptional soundstages and facilities,” said Simon Robinson, COO of WBD Studios. “With this planned expansion adding significant capacity and capabilities, it will be home to even more incredible storytelling for both film and television projects. 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.”
Along with Barbie, the lot has been home to HBO’s House of the Dragon and the upcoming Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. DC Studios co-chairmen and CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran will consult with the expansion team to ensure their ideas are incorporated into the new studio and production facilities, the release said.
Officials estimate that 4,000 new direct and indirect jobs will be created across the UK due to the expansion, raising the total value of film and television production at WBSL to an excess of £600 million ($737.6 million) annually.
“The enormous strength of our creative industries sees films and television shows made in the UK reaching cinemas and front rooms across the world,” said Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP. “Warner Bros Discovery’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 – and means that British-made entertainment will continue to delight and entertain global audiences.”
Andreas Weisman contributed to this report.
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