Wednesday, March 8, 2017

NBCUniversal To Become Sole Owner of Universal Studios Japan

Last week it was announced that NBCUniversal, owned by Comcast, will be purchasing the rest of Universal Studios Japan to become its sole owner.  The deal, which is expected to close in April, is valued at $2.3 billion - a very large sum but Universal Studios Japan is also a heavily attended and very successful theme park.  It first opened in 2001 and has seen growing attendance in recent years, including a large increase when its Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened.

NBCUniversal has been investing heavily in their Universal-branded theme parks in recent years, seeing great returns on the investments and growing profits.  To that end, it is not really a surprise that they want to own all of Universal Studios Japan.  The park is currently owned by several partners, including investment firms and even the property's former CEO - together they own 49% of the resort, which NBCUniversal will be purchasing.

“Universal Studios Japan is an amazing and incredibly successful theme park,” said Tom Williams, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Universal Parks & Resorts. “This acquisition will bring an even stronger future for the theme park, its guests and its team members. We are thrilled USJ will fully be part of the Universal family and look forward to continuing to create a remarkable experience for our guests.”

NBCUniversal is currently building a branded theme park in Beijing and already licenses its name (but does not own) Universal Studios Singapore.  As the theme park market continues to grow in Asia, I wouldn't be surprised to see continued expansion in this direction.

Universal Studios Japan will open a new Minion Park themed area in April, including the popular Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction.  It has also announced the first Nintendo themed area to open in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.