Par plans park/studio complex in Oz

Facility to include theme park, four studios, megaplex

SYDNEY — The government of Victoria has approved an ambitious scheme to build an entertainment complex in Melbourne that will include a theme park operated by Paramount Parks, at least four film and TV studios and a 20-screen megaplex.

The project is being developed by the Entertainment City consortium, whose members comprise Paramount’s parent Viacom, Bruce Gordon’s Crawfords Australia (which will manage the studios and move its h.q. to the facility), Melbourne businessmen Richard Pratt and Paul Davies and Macquarie Bank.

“It will revitalize production in Victoria,” said David Rouse, Crawfords chief executive, noting the facility will house a full range of production and post-production services.

The complex, costing A$300 million-A$350 million ($204 million-$238 million), in the rejuvenated Docklands area will rival the Warner Roadshow Movie World Studios and theme park on Queensland’s Gold Coast, and Fox Studios Australia’s new Sydney facility, which will include a studio tour and a 16-screen cinema.

A Paramount spokesman in L.A. told Daily Variety: “We are pleased to be selected as the preferred developer (of this project) and we are hopeful that we can finalize our negotiations with the government in the coming months.”

Davies told Daily Variety he expects construction to begin in September after the consortium meets financial and other conditions laid down by the govern-ment and the Docklands Authority.

He said some of the coin will be raised by a public float. He expects the Docklands Studio Complex, as it’s provisionally known, to be completed and open by the end of 2000.

Davies said the theme park will be similar to those operated by Paramount in the U.S., with a mix of rides and family entertainment, plus a more modest ver-sion of the “Star Trek: The Experience” attraction that recently opened in Las Vegas. He added that the operator of the megaplex cinema is yet to be determined.

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