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Warner Said to Be Planning German Film Studio Tour : Tourism: The company is negotiating to buy a small theme park and renovate it along the lines of the Universal Studios Tour, a German paper says.

August 18, 1993|MARKUS GUNTHER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Apparently encouraged by the extraordinary success of its Australian movie theme park, Warner Brothers plans to invest about $180 million to create a similar attraction in Bottrop, Germany, according to a German newspaper.

The Westdeutsche Allgemeine newspaper has reported that Warner Bros., the Burbank-based movie studio owned by Time Warner Inc., is negotiating to purchase Bavaria Film Park, a small, movie-themed attraction that Warner would renovate and expand, using as a model the Universal Studios Tour. Warner would also build a movie production studio on the property, which is owned by the German film group Bavaria, the paper said.

Separately on Tuesday, Time Warner disclosed that it will pay about $70 million to acquire full ownership of Six Flags Entertainment Corp., the Parsippany, N.J., company that operates the seven Six Flags theme parks in the United States.

Time Warner, which already holds half of Six Flags' common stock, said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it will acquire the remaining stock in the third quarter of this year.

The decision to acquire all of Six Flags reflects its improved performance under Time Warner's management, analysts said. Time Warner spruced up the company's parks, including Six Flags Magic Mountain near Valencia, which helped them generate about $490 million in revenue last year.

Warner Bros.' Movie World near Brisbane, Australia, its only theme park outside the United States, has been a "tremendous success," said spokeswoman Charlotte Kamdel.

Regarding the report of a planned Warner investment in Germany, Time Warner spokeswoman Jeanette Lerman would say only that plans "have not been publicly announced."

If Warner develops the park in Germany, it would be the second American project of its kind in Europe. Walt Disney Co.'s Euro Disney outside Paris so far has operated in the red because of poor attendance.

According to the German newspaper report, the Bavaria park--which is much smaller than Euro Disney--would be closed for two years, beginning this fall. Warner would use the time to reorganize the park's features and expand the number of attractions.

The park was opened two years ago with attractions pegged to German and American films, but it has so far been only a modest success.

Among the new features planned by Warner Bros. would be attractions similar to the Universal tour's earthquake adventure and great white shark feature.

Bottrop is a small city near the Rhine, about 35 miles north of Cologne in the former West Germany. The Warner Bros. project is expected to create about 800 new jobs in the Bottrop area.

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