BEIJING: Construction has begun on a US$7 billion Universal Studios theme park in Beijing, state media said on Monday (Oct 31), as the studio looks to challenge Disney in China's booming leisure market.
The complex is due to open in 2020 and has secured investment of 50 billion yuan (US$7.4 billion), the official Xinhua news agency said.
China is promoting consumer-driven growth and theme parks are being built in the country faster than anywhere else in the world, with more than 300 projects reportedly funded in recent years.
Mainland China's first Disneyland opened this June in the commercial hub of Shanghai at a cost of US$5.5 billion.
Another US giant, DreamWorks Animation, is cooperating on an entertainment district in Shanghai.
Last year 21 theme parks opened, according to state-run media, and the National Business Daily newspaper said another 20 are under construction.
Box office receipts in China are booming, with Universal films such as Harry Potter and Transformers big hits among Chinese cinemagoers.
Universal's three theme parks in the US have become so lucrative that executives are beginning to design movie sets with future theme park rides in mind, executives have said.
The company's Beijing location will be its third in Asia after Singapore and Osaka. It is also planning a park in South Korea.
As well as a theme park, the four square kilometre complex includes two resort hotels and a retail complex, Xinhua said. Previous reports said it was being built as a joint venture with a state-backed tourism firm.