WB Intl. sets German park/studio

After months of negotiations, Warner Bros. Intl. has greenlighted plans to build a 350 million deutschemark ($ 206 million) film theme park and a film and TV studio in Nordrhein-Westfalen (NRW), the densely populated industrial region on the western border of Germany.

Warner’s partner will be the Nixdorf family, major shareholders in one of Germany’s most prominent computer firms. How the stakes will be divided is a secret, but WB is said to be taking the lion’s share.

“We have full control of all design and operations for the park,” said Nicholas Winslow, WB exec VP of recreational enterprises. He explained that although WB has the majority stake, “we are not the de facto owner” of the property, which thestudio expects to open in 1996.

In a separate section with German architecture and film artifacts, the unnamed park will feature rides from recent German movies such as the World War II submarine pic “Das Boot.” Even so, Winslow said, “We aren’t exactly going to ignore ‘Batman’ and ‘Police Academy.’ ”

The former owner of the park, Bavaria Film Studios in Munich, was bought out for an unnamed sum, which is included in the initial $ 206 million investment. The Bavaria FilmPark Bottrop-Kirchhellen has been in operation for two years, but Bavaria Film Studios execs admit it is a failure.

Though talk had originally involved a “partnership” in revamping the park, Bavaria Film will have no part in the new deal and even its name will be removed , though rights to use Bavaria films like “Das Boot” were included in the deal.

According to Warner Bros. reps, the theme park will be similar to the Warner Bros. Movie World in Australia. Initially, the active studio segment of the German site will be smaller than the five soundstages in Oz, but it is expected to grow beyond that.

The state of NRW was heavily involved in paving the way for the investment, which WB reps hope will lure a large part of Germany’s burgeoning film community to lens in the U.S. compound. By one estimate, the complex will create 900 jobs.

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