Universal to open theme park in China

Marvel comics hero Spiderman poses for the press at the Universal Studios in Japan Image copyright AFP
Image caption Universal Studios is set to open its first theme park in China

Universal Studios will open its first $3.3bn (£2bn) Chinese theme park after 13 years of trying to enter the booming entertainment market.

Hollywood director Steven Spielberg will help design the Beijing Universal park, the company said on Monday.

The park is being developed with local state firm Beijing Tourism Group.

Universal is the latest US firm to enter China's fast-growing entertainment sector after rivals Walt Disney and DreamWorks Animation.

The company did not say when the theme park would open, but reports say it will be in 2019.

Both Disney's $4.4bn theme park and DreamWorks' $3.1bn entertainment complex with Chinese partners are expected to open in 2016 in Shanghai.

Film studios are in a big rush to build theme parks in the world's second-largest economy as a rapidly-growing middle class is spending more money on entertainment and travel.

In April, Disney said it was increasing investment in its Shanghai Disney theme park by another $800m after striking a deal with a Chinese joint venture partner.

Growth in China's entertainment and media market is expected to more than double from 2013 to $148bn by 2015, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers global study.

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