Build a Batmobile or chat with 'Friends' on Warner Bros.' expanded backlot tour

Build a Batmobile or chat with 'Friends' on Warner Bros.' expanded backlot tour
The cast of the TV show "Friends" sits down with Jay Leno for a special "Tonight Show," on the set of Central Perk, the "Friends" fictional coffee shop, in Burbank in May 2004. The set is partof the Warner Bros. expanded backlot tour. (Paul Drinkwater/Associated Press)

Hollywood has long been a big draw for tourists visiting Southern California.

Now Warner Bros. is hoping to capitalize on that interest by giving travelers to Los Angeles a deeper look into the movie-making process.


Spurred by the success of its behind-the-scenes Harry Potter studio tour outside London, Warner Bros. is planning a major expansion of its backlot tour in Burbank.

The newly named Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hollywood, which debuts July 16, takes consumers behind the scenes of how movies and TV shows are made — from script to screen.

The new tour features a 25,000-square-foot studio called Stage 48 that includes interactive attractions and displays designed by Burbank-based Thinkwell, which also was behind the Harry Potter tour in Leavesden.

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres (whose show is based on the lot) greets visitors in an introductory video. Guests walk through a series of displays that show all stages of production, from screenwriting and casting, to visual effects and sound mixing.

Using video projected onto a drafting board, award-winning costume and production designers from "Sweeney Todd" and the "Dark Knight" series demonstrate how sets and costumes are designed from rough sketches to final scenes in the movies.

An interactive design station allows fans of Batman to build their own Batmobiles.

In the postproduction section, guests can "ride" a broomstick or a Batpod in front of a green screen, giving them the sensation of appearing inside "Batman" or "Harry Potter."

Also new is an expanded re-creation of the Central Perk Cafe set from "Friends." The former NBC hit series has been one of the biggest draws for visitors, some of whom learned English watching the show, the studio says.

In the exhibit, visitors can sit on the sofa used by their favorite characters and get behind the camera, reenacting lines from an episode. There's also a coffee shop at the entrance modeled on Central Perk.

The admission price will increase to $62, up from $54. Customers can also order photos and videos for an extra $15 and $35, depending on the package.

"This is about as close as you're going to get to the making of movies and TV shows," said Danny Kahn, the tour's executive director. "We feel this really brings a whole new element to the tour."