‘Harry Potter’ film franchise feted by BAFTAs

While the “Harry Potter” films have failed to win over BAFTA voters, with just one award out of 26 nominations, the academy is recognizing the achievements of the series with the Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema honor. Accepting the tribute at this year’s awards on Feb. 13 will be creator J.K. Rowling and producer David Heyman.

In making the announcement, the academy said, “The ‘Harry Potter’ films have not only created stars in front of the camera, but have also highlighted the expertise within the British craft and technical industries, supporting a vast array of jobs throughout production. Their contribution to the British filmmaking industry was underlined last year when Warner Bros. Pictures, which has shepherded the film series from its inception, purchased Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire. Leavesden Studios has been the ‘Harry Potter’ base for the past ten years.”

This award was introduced in 1978 and is presented in honour of the late Sir Michael Balcon, head of Ealing Studios. The first recipients were the Special Visual Effects team for “Superman” and others cited have included Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Brownlow, Lewis Gilbert, Derek Jarman and Mike Leigh as well as Channel Four Films, Working Title and Pinewood & Shepperton Studios.

The seventh film in the series — “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” vies for Special Visual Effects and Make Up & Hair at this year’s BAFTAs. The only competitve win came came for the fourth film — “Goblet of Fire” — which took home Best Production Design. The third entry — “The Prisoner of Azkaban” — won the Film of the Year public vote in 2004. The films have been nominated four times in the Children’s Awards public vote, winning twice in 2003 & 2006 for “The Chamber of Secrets” and “Goblet of Fire” respectively.

Academy Awards voters haven’t been wild about Harry either. The first six films netted just seven Oscar nominations with no wins. “Deathy Hallows: Part 1” contends for Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects this year but is likely to be bested in both categories.

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