Harry Potter attraction coming to Universal Studios Hollywood

Hogwarts is coming to Hollywood.

Universal Studios is planning to build a replica of its successful Florida Harry Potter attraction in Los Angeles, said people familiar with the matter but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

A contract between Comcast Corp.-owned Universal and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros., which made the "Harry Potter" movies and controls licensing rights to author J.K. Rowling's books about the boy wizard, is being finalized and should be complete within the next few weeks, the people said.

The new attraction is expected to debut at Universal Studios Hollywood — adjacent to the movie and television studio's lot in Universal City — no sooner than 2015.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando has drawn more than 7 million people since it opened in 2010 and was a primary driver of a 36% boost in attendance at the theme park in the first three months of 2011.

Families have flocked to the Orlando park to go on Potter-themed rides — including the Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster — visit replicas of Potter locations like Hogwarts Castle and the Three Broomsticks Inn, and even drink a re-creation of the story's famous butterbeer.

Universal and Warner Bros. have also been in discussions about expanding the Potter attraction in Florida.

A remaining question is where the Potter rides and shops would be placed at the land-strapped Universal Hollywood. To make room, the park would almost certainly have to remove or retrofit existing rides.

At Universal Orlando, several of the Harry Potter rides are re-branded versions of attractions that had already been at the park for years.

The agreement for the new Potter park is the result of many months of negotiations between the two entertainment giants and wasn't the only option for Warner Bros. The Burbank studio also held talks with Walt Disney Co. about replicating the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Disneyland in Anaheim. But Universal's successful track record in Orlando probably gave it an advantage in securing the rights for Southern California.

In September, Disney signed a partnership to create attractions based on 20th Century Fox's 2009 box-office blockbuster "Avatar," the first of which will begin construction at Walt Disney World in Orlando in 2013.

With the eighth and last movie hitting theaters this summer, "Harry Potter" finished its run on the big screen four years after the final book was published. The film series was one of Hollywood's most successful franchises of all time, generating $7.7 billion in worldwide ticket sales, while the books have sold a staggering 450 million copies.

The new theme park deal is part of an effort by Warner to keep generating revenue from "Harry Potter" through a variety of licensing deals. Barry Meyer, the studio's chairman and chief executive, said recently that he believes the young residents of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry comprise an "evergreen property" that can remain popular for generations.

The Southern California agreement leaves open the option for Warner to make other Potter attractions around the world. There are also Universal-branded theme parks in Japan, Singapore and Spain that are operated by other companies under licensing deals with the studio.

News of the deal was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

ben.fritz@latimes.com

Times staff writer Brady MacDonald contributed to this report.

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