Busch inks with WMA

The William Morris Agency announced Tuesday that after a year and a half of powwows, it has made an overall deal to represent the nation’s second-largest theme park operator, Busch Entertainment Corp., in all areas.

In a deal estimated to affect $ 750 million worth of BEC business annually, WMA will help the family entertainment arm of the St. Louis, Mo.-based brewery giant Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. expand and integrate its franchise properties.

Significantly, WMA will guide the future hardware/software integration of Busch’s properties. This means WMA clients in all areas will likely become involved in everything from development of software to expansion of IMAX theaters and product.

And, following the lead of Warner Bros. and Universal, WMA will also aim at guiding BEC into one of the fastest-growing areas in entertainment: the feature film/theme park ride crossover business.

WMA will also help BEC in the areas of acquisition of character rights, development of new characters and creating franchises from existing characters.

Among BEC’s media forays so far are the TV special “Sea World and Busch Gardens Summer Celebration”; broadcast of the “A Pledge and a Promise Environmental Awards”; Shamu TV, an interactive satellite education program; and Sea World’s newly established licensing program.

Anheuser-Busch, a publicly traded family-run company and the largest brewery in the world, posts annual revenues in excess of $ 12 billion. As the second-largest theme park operator next to Disney, BEC’s revenues are around $ 750 million annually.

“All of us at Anheuser-Busch Theme Parks are eager to join forces with William Morris as we continue our pursuit of non-traditional ways to expand the marketing and entertainment initiatives of our parks,” said BEC veepee Chris Shea in a statement.

Added WMA exec VP Richard Rosenberg in a statement, “We are pleased to be associated with one of the world’s great companies and look forward to furthering their unique position in the industry.”

Among the Busch flagships are the four Sea World parks; the safari-themed Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla.; the European-flavored version in Williamsburg, Va.; and the tropical showplace Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Fla.

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