A joint venture was created between Aldar and the newly-established Abu Dhabi Media Company and the studio that brought us the Harry Potter and Scooby-Doo films and Bugs Bunny.
The massive entertainment project will include a theme park, a luxury hotel and multiplex cinemas on Yas Island, the formation of a joint fund to finance feature films and develop and produce video games, as well as the growth of new media in the emirate.
And that’s not all, folks… New Warner Bros branded cinemas will also be built in Abu Dhabi’s under-construction Central Market, Ruwais in the Western Region and Al Ain.
Abu Dhabi Media Company Chairman Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei said: “From theme parks to hotels, this agreement will put Abu Dhabi at the centre of the world’s entertainment map.” Aldar will co-ordinate and oversee physical construction of both the theme park and the hotel. Both projects are expected to start in 2009.
Warner Bros International Cinemas will develop, design and manage jointly owned multiplex cinemas in Abu Dhabi, to be built by Aldar. Construction on the multiplex cinemas at the Central Market development has already begun and they are due to open in the first quarter of 2010.
The film production fund, a 50-50 venture, calls for the development and production of broad-appeal films, with Warner Bros retaining worldwide distribution options and rights on all such projects.
Separate from this arrangement, Warner Bros Pictures International will work with Abu Dhabi Media Company to develop and produce Arabic-language films for local and regional distribution.
Specifics about the cost of the deal were not revealed in the announcement. Emirates Today spoke with Osama Ghanoum, Aldar’s Media and Marketing Manager in New York, who declined to reveal details but said: “It is a huge multi-billion-dirham project.” The agreement was signed in the presence of Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also the Chairman of the National Media Council.
Warner Bros Chairman and CEO Barry Meyer said he was “thrilled to be partnering with Aldar and the Abu Dhabi Media Company on these exciting endeavours”.
“We are impressed by their… philosophy. It is a firstrate company, led by first-rate executives,” said Meyer.
News of Abu Dhabi’s agreement with Warner Bros comes after Dubai is set to invest Dh8 billion in a Universal Studios theme park for Dubailand. Universal Studios Dubai was announced in April and developers Tatweer expect it to attract five million visitors a year when it is completed in 2010.
The Universal Studios theme park is expected to cover 1.9 million square meters, with the whole Dubailand complex spreading over an area of some 280 sq km, twice the size of Walt Disney World in Florida. The theme park will feature attractions based on films such as King Kong and The Mummy.
Paramount Pictures has also signed a licensing deal, with Ruwaad Holdings in Dubai, for the developer to build rides and attractions based on its library of films and characters.Ruwaad plans to spend $2.5bn (Dh9.1bn) on the Paramount Pictures branded park.