It was a over a year ago that fire ripped through the Universal Studios backlot, destroying cinematic landmarks and canceling future film production there. Movie fans were especially dismayed by news that Courtyard Square may have been damaged. That’s the set used for the iconic clock tower in all three Back to the Future movies. Now though, recovery is on the way. The lot is under construction, repairs are being made and Universal says they plan to have most of it back open by mid-summer.

Here’s Universal’s full press release, along with a photo of construction under way. Make your vacation plans:

A little over a year after a fire damaged four acres on the world’s largest working movie studio lot, Universal Studios will re-open in mid-Summer most of its iconic sets and will unveil innovative shooting locations designed to meet contemporary film production needs. The new and re-created sets will be featured on the world-famous Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour—recently upgraded with Hi-Def digital servers and flat screen monitors—and will enhance visitors’ behind-the-scenes experience of a working studio environment.

Beginning in mid-summer, production will resume on the world- famous Courthouse Square, Brownstone Street and an enhanced New York Street. The new locations to be introduced this year will include a gas station, a firehouse, a London Street and, most notably, a modern urban cityscape, with glass and steel façade structures that will provide film and TV crews with the opportunity to replicate a modern city street scene in a controlled studio environment. The contemporary cityscape will be the largest modern urban backlot shooting location in Los Angeles.

These advanced facilities were constructed to provide ideal shooting conditions for contemporary productions, and were designed with the assistance of leading filmmakers and art directors. Additional sets will remain in construction and are planned to open in 2010.

The great majority of the studio’s famous standing sets and locations, including the “War of the Worlds” set, Western Streets, European Street, Mexican Street, the Psycho House-Bates Motel, and “Desperate Housewives” Wisteria Lane were untouched by the fire and have remained in continuous use for dozens of motion picture and television productions.

During the reconstruction phase of the backlot, Studio Tour guests will experience a panoramic view of the construction and dramatic transformation taking place at the historic studio. The Studio Tour is a signature attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, The Entertainment Capital of L.A., and is also being upgraded this year to feature a Hi-Definition TV digital system, with new flat-screen HD monitors installed in each Tram car. The new monitors will feature commentary from filmmakers and stars and clips from movies and TV productions, many created especially for the Studio Tour and all corresponding to the sites visited along the Tour route. Because the Tour is constantly changing to accommodate movie and TV production schedules, a custom Hi-Definition playback system was designed to allow for the selection of material from the hundreds of clips created for the Studio Tour attraction.

Beginning June 1, “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” will debut in a newly renovated sound stage located on the Universal Studios lot. As Emmy Award-winning host Conan O’Brien moves to California, the show’s state of the art studio will become a featured showpiece of the Studio Tour.


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