Harry Potter tour focuses on behind-camera wizardry

Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:43am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - A new tour at the film studios outside London where the Harry Potter blockbusters were shot aims to champion the "unsung heroes" -- from seamstresses to special effects wizards -- who made the movies magical for millions.

"Warner Bros. Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter" opens to the public on Saturday, and organizers expect 5,000 visitors to file past the familiar sets, strange creatures and scale models every day.

They enter through the famous Great Hall, a cavernous room with stone-like walls, real stone floors and graffiti-marked tables where students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry ate their feasts and enjoyed the Yule Ball.

Also preserved from the original films are Gryffindor Common Room, Professor Dumbledore's office, the potions classroom, Hagrid's hut, the Weasleys' kitchen and a section of the Ministry of Magic.

The giant spider Aragog, a version of the animatronic "Hippogriff" Buckbeak and eerily life-like models of the actors allow visitors to study up close the painstaking craftsmanship that every scene involved.

The animatronic Aragog, for example, needed 100 technicians to operate, real goat hair was inserted strand by strand to create Greyback's werewolf face and Ollivanders shop in Diagon Alley contained 17,000 individually labeled wand boxes.

"There's just so much detail in everything," said Rupert Grint, who played Harry's best friend Ron Weasley in the films.

"I'm so happy it hasn't all been put away into storage and collected dust and forgotten about because it's something that really needs to be celebrated," he told Reuters, sitting in the Weasley kitchen.   Continued...

Storefronts are seen in "Diagon Alley" during a media viewing tour of the set of the Harry Potter films at the Warner Bros.REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly