No, that’s not a spoiler! It’s a thing that actually happened.
According to the Coventry Telegraph, while filming the climactic battle between the good students of Hogwarts and the evil Deatheaters for the upcoming two-part movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a “mocked-up castle made of timber, steel and plastic” caught on fire and took the rest of the set with it.
In a pyrotechnics-heavy shoot, there is always a risk of damage being done, but rarely do conditions on a set swing so wildly – or dangerously – out of control.
Six fire engines were called to the scene, and it took crews of firefighters forty minutes to contain the flames. Thankfully, none of the estimated 100 cast and crew members on hand were injured, but the damage done to the set is reported to be just shy of $150,000. The real question, of course, is whether or not this will delay either installment of Harry Potter‘s final chapter.
Warner Bros. has not released any such statement yet, though they have admitted that the incident upsets the shooting schedule, which is a given.
[Update: /Film is reporting from the set itself a statement from the unit publicist which clarifies the matter. As it turns out, many of the reports of the damages were a bit exaggerated.
The second unit crew were shooting a scene with a major effect which started a small fire that only destroyed an exterior courtyard set. The fire was put it in under an hour by the studio’s in-house fire brigade and the extra trucks arriving from the fire department were there only as a precaution as is standard procedure.
Playing damage control (in more ways than one) the publicist also says the set needed to be rebuilt again anyway since it was mostly damaged from a big battle sequence they previous shot. Hogwarts is safe!]
Apparently, none of the film’s stars were present for the fiasco, which will hopefully make this just slightly less of an insurance nightmare for the production than it could have been.
Given that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the last film in the series, this all comes a bit late to generate any ‘cursed set’ stories, unless the production becomes suddenly and consistently plagued with problems. It’s not the only UK set to have suffered extreme fire damage, either. The James Bond reboot Casino Royal also had its set destroyed in a fire at Pinewood studios back in 2006.
Still, this is definitely one for the books.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be open in theaters on November 19, 2010 (pt. 1) and July 15, 2011 (pt. 2).