Expanding into a new area of theme park filmmaking, Iwerks Entertainment has licensed “RoboCop,” the futuristic crime-fighter from Orion Pictures, for its own rides.

This is the first time a ride developer has acquired a film property from a movie company; the move, according to analysts, strengthens Iwerks’ position as a high growth company in the $ 150 million theme park ride category.

“We want to position ourselves as the provider of products to parks not owned by studios,” said Iwerks CEO Stan Kinsey. “In the next two to seven years, we want close relationships with all the studios. Some of their properties won’t be used by their theme parks, and we might be interested. We can amortize those costs. “

When Iwerk’s Turbo Tour ride version of “RoboCop” appears next year, it will have a chance to run on the 10 proprietary rides the company has around the world. That number is expected to go to 15 next year, with an eye to more than 50 by 1997.

There are 100 or so theme parks in the U.S. not owned by studios and eager for product attached to a film.

According to Orion’s head of licensing, Sheila Morphew, “This will lead to new marketing opportunities for “RoboCop 3.”

The “RoboCop 3″ pic is expected to be released next summer; the opening of the special effects extravaganza has reportedly been held up due to Orion’s bankruptcy.

That hasn’t stopped Orion from licensing the character. “RoboCop 3″ is already in game arcades and as a video game for Nintendo and Sega of America. A theme-park ride would just be another way to bring in revenues and keep the character before the public until the film opens.

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