The Great Wall might have some competition in winning the affection of tourists following Chinese government approval of a $3.25 billion Universal Studios movie theme park, Universal Beijing, the Hollywood Reporter said Monday. It will be the biggest park Universal ever has built and is expected to open in 2019.
It will initially be built as 300 acres and then expanded to 1,000 acres over time, the company said during a press conference at a Beijing hotel. The theme park will include strong Chinese elements and pay "proper homage to culture in China," said Tom Williams, chairman and CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts, according to THR.
The Universal theme park will contain the first-ever Universal-themed resort hotel and various retail, dining and entertainment facilities. It will be owned jointly by Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment (BSH Investment), Universal Parks & Resorts and a group of four state-owned companies.
"Of all the theme parks in the world, Universal Studio is outstanding, and we have all appreciated its high standards. It is a theme park based on modern movie culture, and has a great reputation around the world," said Duan Qiang, chairman of Beijing Tourism Group and BSH Investment.
It had apparently been in the works for 13 years. "Beijing is an ancient cultural city with several great cultural heritage relics. What Beijing lacks is a large-scale entertainment project based on modern technology and modern art. After 13 years of preparation, we are excited that we finally reached a deal," Duan said.
It’s no secret that Chinese consumers have a burgeoning love affair with American movies. Chinese moviegoers have been flocking to the theater, their numbers growing by 22 percent to $2.16 billion, with American movies making up half of that number, the New York Post reported in July.
“China has been growing at this pace for the past five years,” Y.C. Chu, general manager of Hong Kong’s Emperor Motion Pictures, told Variety in July. “We see no reason to think it will stop any time in the next five years, and if you have good cinemas, we can see growth continuing for seven years.”
The theme park business in Asia is subsequently flourishing. Attendance was up 7.5 percent in 2013, THR wrote in June, citing a report from the Themed Entertainment Association. "A lot of the Asian economies are growing and have potential way beyond North America," Wall Street analyst Harold Vogel told the site. He added economies in the U.S. and Europe are expanding at a slower rate.
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