Magic of Harry Potter films set to live on at Leavesden

AS film buffs prepare for the final two movies in the Harry Potter franchise, fans of the young wizard can rest assured that the magical story will continue.

Just outside of Dacorum, Warner Bros has decided to make the landmark Leavesden Film Studios its UK base and will open a Harry Potter visitor attraction there.

The move comes as the beginning of the end looms closer for the mega-successful movie series with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One in November.

But fans of the film can keep the story alive with a visit to the studios where there will be recreations of the Hogwarts school hall and Albus Dumbledore’s study, real costumes and sets on display, replicas of characters and a behind-the-scenes showcase.

The plans are in the early stages but Warner Bros directors have met with council leaders at Watford Borough Council and Three Rivers District Council to discuss them.

Proposals include a multi-million pound refurbishment of the studio, where all six Potter movies were filmed.

Movie crews also shot scenes at Ashridge and Ivinghoe Beacon, which was where the Quidditch World Cup was filmed.

Even an ordinary tree in Frithsden Beeches was given a piece of the limelight when it was used as the Whomping Willow in 2004’s Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.

People living in villages near Ashridge, such as Aldbury, Pitstone, Ivinghoe, Little Gaddesden, Nettleden, Frithsden and Potten End, quickly became seasoned star spotters.

They got glimpses and sometimes even autographs from the stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Mark Williams and Emma Watson.

This year, the Gazette reported when a firework set scenery alight at the studios during a stunt in March.

Then in April, one of the film scripts was left in Luigi’s Italian restaurant at the Waterside Tavern, in Kings Langley.

And in June crowds of people gathered on the Ashridge estate to watch the final scenes of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One being filmed from a helicopter.

The story from the final book by JK Rowling has been split into two parts, with the final episode to be released next summer.

Mayor of Watford Dorothy Thornhill has already backed plans for the landmark studios, saying that the project will bring jobs to the area and become a visitor attraction, which is due to open ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

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