SEOUL, May 22 (Reuters) Universal Studios plans to open a theme park in South Korea, betting that rides and spectacles based on movies such as Spider Man and King Kong will draw in more and more affluent people in Asia's fourth largest economy.
Becoming the latest Hollywood film studio to expand in Asia's burgeoning entertainment resort market, Universal Studios said today it would build the South Korean park by 2012, which could be larger than its parks in Hollywood and Japan.
The project, announced a day after another US film giant Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) unveiled a plan for a Shanghai park, highlights Hollywood's accelerating push to take the world's most popular entertainment to the world's most populous region.
Asia's theme park industry accounts for nearly half of the global 23.5 billion dollar market and is expected to see a 25 per cent jump in visitor numbers by 2010, according to research firm Euromonitor.
''We want to put you side by side with your favourite heros,'' Thomas Williams, Chairman and CEO of Universal Studios Parks&Resorts, told a news conference in Seoul.
''Korea has grown into an attractive market in many necessary and critical aspects for theme park and resort development in terms of income, population, consumer interest and growth of the entertainment industry.'' Universal Studios, operated by NBC Universal Inc, a unit of General Electric Co, opened its first Asian theme park in Japan's Osaka in 2001 and is developing two other parks in Singapore's Sentosa Island and in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
Universal Studios, which will jointly develop the Korean park with a consortium including South Korea's POSCO Engineering and Construction, said it was looking at a number of locations and had yet to set the size of the investment.
Hollywood film studio Paramount Pictures Corp said earlier this month it would explore developing a South Korean theme park, its first outside North America, and was looking at the Chinese city of Tianjin for its second.
Walt Disney Co, which has Disneyland parks in Japan and Hong Kong, is considering expanding its theme park empire to China and South Korea.
REUTERS SM SSC1055