Final farewell leaves British film industry facing an uncertain future

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The Independent Online

It wasn't just the fans camped in Trafalgar Square who shed a tearful goodbye to the boy wizard. The premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 marked the end of a £2bn spell cast over the UK film industry.

From distinguished thespians to producers, special effects experts, technicians and caterers, the Warner Brothers franchise has kept the infrastructure of the national film industry in gainful employment for a decade.

The credits for the final film, produced at Leavesden Studios inWatford, list more than 1,100 names.

Warner Bros estimates it spent around £2bn making films in Britain during the Potter decade, which generated eight instalments.

Described as "the biggest windfall in the history of the British film industry" by the UK Film Council – now axed under the Coalition's cuts – the end of the Potter cycle means uncertain times for a national movie business perpetually living in Hollywood's shadow.

Warner Bros has expressed its confidence in Britain as a production base by committing to invest £100m to expand Leavesden. The 170-acre site will be redeveloped to include a Harry Potter theme park, new sound stages and prosthetics and animatronics workshops, which could generate 1,500 jobs.

Tax breaks, an improvement in post-production facilities and the continued glow from the Oscar-winning King's Speech also means that inward investment in UK film is tipped to exceed £1bn for the first time this year.

Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London, said: "The Potter cycle has ended, but they have left a golden legacy in the crews we have developed and the investment in post-production skills and special effects.

"Warner is shooting the new Batman and Sherlock Holmes films here and we are using the Potter films as a sales tool to encourage Disney, Fox and the other studios to make movies here."

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