Universal Studios Upgrade Plan Gets OK; Construction On Wizarding World Of Harry Potter Starting This Summer

The unanimous vote by the LA County Board of Supervisors today ends a seven-year public hearing and environmental approval process that clears the way to begin construction on NBCUniversal‘s 25-year Evolution Plan. Starting in late summer, work will begin on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter themed land at Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, as well as on new and upgraded TV production facilities, office space and infrastructure on the Universal Studios lot. The Potter attraction was first announced in 2011 and already has seen success in Universal’s Orlando theme park, which Universal President and COO Ron Meyer has called a game-changer. A Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Japan was announced last year. Originally, the broader Evolution Plan to build 3,000 apartments and condos and retail space on the studio back lot were scrapped in July, after Yaroslovsky and LA City Council member Tom LaBonge red-flagged the potential environmental impact and potential loss of production jobs. (Universal Studios sits on both LA city and county land; the LA City Council approved the city’s portion of the plan in February.)

In total, the plan is expected to create more than 30,000 jobs and generate $2 billion in economic activity, according to NBCU. County supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said the newly forged agreement calls for NBCU to make $100 million in transit improvements, and commit nearly $14 million to jump-start the effort to revitalize the Los Angeles River by “completing key missing links on the LA River bike path”. That includes building a nearly one-acre trailhead park on the studio’s property abutting the river. Here’s NBCU’s release on the deal:

UNIVERSAL CITY, California, April 23, 2013 – NBCUniversal announced today plans to begin construction of the first projects of its 25-year Evolution Plan. The Evolution Plan represents a $1.6 billion investment in tourism and production. This long-term investment in two industries that are vital to Los Angeles will create more than 30,000 jobs and generate $2 billion of economic activity during operations for the region.

“After nearly a decade of work on the Evolution Plan, today’s vote sets the stage for our next 100 years in Los Angeles,” said Ron Meyer, president and COO of Universal Studios. “We are thankful for the support and leadership we have received from both the County and City of Los Angeles and are ready to get started investing in these important tourism and production projects in the next few months.”

Read More »

Comments 22

Harry Potter Attraction Headed To Japan

By | Wednesday May 9, 2012 @ 4:45pm PDT

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is traveling to the land of the rising sun. Warner Bros and Universal Parks & Resorts are partnering to expand the Hogwarts experience to Universal Studios Japan. Execs involved in … Read More »

Comments (0)

Harry Potter Coming To Universal Hollywood

Comcast Hints That ‘Harry Potter’ Will Go To Additional Universal Parks

It’s been rumored for some time and even today Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes said the news was coming soon. Now Comcast’s Universal Parks & Resorts has … Read More »

Comments (7)

Time Warner Chief Jeff Bewkes Says He’s Open To Acquisitions, If Cheap: UBS Confab

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes needed a better joke writer to help him acknowledge the anniversary of the blunder he made at last year’s UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference when he wrote off Netflix, comparing it to the Albanian army trying to take over the world. He had to eat those words as Time Warner, along with just about everyone else, began licensing programming to the online streaming service. “This is the appropriate place to point out that the Albanian army did take over the world. Alexander the Great? It’s close.” The line only elicited a few chuckles from analysts, but they didn’t seem to mind after hearing Bewkes say a lot of things they wanted to hear. Time Warner’s ad sales have been ”up double digits (since the upfront market) and are holding.” Although 4Q was a little soft, ”some of that is advertisers pulling stuff forward to the upfront. … We’re looking fine for the first quarter,” especially with the return of NBA games.

He also assured investors that they don’t have to be concerned about Warner Bros’ prospects following the end of the Harry Potter film series. He said that within hours, the Harry Potter presence that has done so much for Universal’s Islands of Adventure park in Orlando “will move in a material way in that direction” — suggesting that the company and Comcast will confirm reports that Universal Studios Hollywood will get a version of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction. ”Everybody stay tuned.” He also says that the studio has high hopes for additional franchises including the Batman/Dark Knight series. Read More »

Comments (2)

Comcast Hints That ‘Harry Potter’ Will Go To Additional Universal Parks: UBS Confab

Comcast CFO Mike Angelakis says that The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter was so successful for Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure that it became “a reset mechanism” for the theme park. But he stopped short of confirming reportsRead More »

Comments (4)

Harry Potter Attraction Riding Into Universal Studios Hollywood

Harry Potter will materialize sometime in the future in Universal City with his own special section of the theme park much like “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Orlando Resort. NBC Universal is expected to announce plans … Read More »

Comments (12)

Will ‘Avatar’ From Fox Provide Disney With The Theme Park Hit It Needs?

Disney And Fox Unveil Plans To Develop ‘Avatar’ Theme Park Attractions

Disney must be hoping that its new plan to build Avatar theme park attractions will be the shot in the arm the business may need. And, unbelievably, the new … Read More »

Comments (14)

Comcast Still Upbeat About NBC Despite Economic Concerns

NBC’s broadcast network is reviving faster than Comcast expected and represents “our biggest upside in the near term,” NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke told an investment conference this morning. Since Comcast bought a 51% stake in NBCU in January, “most of the things that have changed have changed for the better.” He says that the national ad business remains “very strong” — with spots for the 2012 Super Bowl nearly sold out. Although there are growing signs that the economy may weaken or stagnate, Burke told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference that NBC can improve once it gets the respect he says the network deserves from advertisers. He says unit prices for NBC’s ads “are discounted heavily, up to 25%” vs. ABC, CBS, and Fox. If NBC develops more must-see shows then the gap should narrow and “you can imagine hundreds of millions (of dollars) in EBITDA coming in.” Burke adds that NBC-owned stations also are “significantly less profitable than we need to be” and that “there’s no reason” that Spanish-language network Telemundo can’t reach a bigger audience. Burke also is upbeat about revenues from the networks’ and stations retransmission consent deals with cable and satellite distributors — including Comcast. The exec says that some of that cash will go back into programming. The network’s previous owner, General Electric, “had not been as enthusiastic about the business and had not been as willing to invest as we are.” Read More »

Comments (2)

You Go To Harry Potter’s Midnight Show &…

POTTER FINALE PHENOM! $82.5M Foreign And $43.5M Domestic Midnights As ‘Harry Potter’ Continues Shattering Records
In Orlando last night, 3,000 audience members of the midnight film screening of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 at AMC Universal Cineplex 20 received free passes to The Wizarding World of Harry … Read More »

Comments (5)