A scene from "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," which… (DreamWorks Animation )
DreamWorks Animation SKG is licensing its movie characters for various theme parks being developed in Russia, an increasingly important market for the Glendale-based studio.
The creator of the "Shrek," "Madagascar" and "Kung Fu Panda" franchises said it had signed a licensing agreement with Regions Group of Companies, which is developing what is billed as Europe's largest indoor theme parks. Regions says it's the fourth-largest retail property owner in Russia.
The parks, scheduled to open in 2015, would be located in St. Petersburg, Moscow and Yekaterinburg and include various attractions based on DreamWorks characters. They would be part of larger entertainment developments, including mixed-use movie/concert halls, 4-D movie theaters, hotels and shopping centers.
DreamWorks Animation is not investing in the parks or participating in the development, a spokeswoman for the studio said.
Nonetheless, like China, Russia has emerged as a key market for DreamWorks Animation and other Hollywood studios. The country has a strong appetite for Hollywood movies and is rapidly expanding its theater industry.
Six of the top 10 animated films of all time in Russia are DreamWorks Animation pictures: "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted," "Shrek Forever After," "Puss In Boots," "Madagascar Escape 2 Africa," "Kung Fu Panda 2" and "How to Train Your Dragon." "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" is currently the second-highest-grossing animated film in Russia's box office history, the studio said.
"Russia is one of the most important markets in the world for us," DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg said in a statement. "All of us at DWA are extremely excited to work with Regions CG. These parks are going to be groundbreaking cultural hubs that will give families the chance to truly enter the world of DreamWorks."
The planned Russia parks are the latest effort by DreamWorks to diversify its operations. The company has already licensed its characters for theme parks in Shanghai, China, and the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
"The foundation of our success lies in the DreamWorks team's wealth of experience in the field of entertainment and the experience of the Regions Group of Companies in developing and managing retail and entertainment centers," said Amiran Mutsoev, a member of the board of directors for Regions GC.
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