Universal Studios Japan to Open 'The Wizarding World of Harry Potter' in 2014

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Harry Potter is heading to Japan.

Universal Studios Japan, located in Osaka, plans to announce Thursday that it will open The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at its theme park by late 2014. The extensive attraction  -- with Hogwarts Castle at its center -- will be modeled after the Harry Potter attraction that opened at the Universal Orlando Resort in Florida in 2010.

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potterwas an immediate hit when it opened its doors in Orlando. In December, Universal and Warners announced plans to expand the original attraction in Florida and also to build a similar attraction at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. 

Universal Studios Japan is partnering with Warner Bros. and Universal Parks & Resorts on the project. Owned by private investors including Goldmann Sachs, the Japanese theme park has an overall licensing deal with Universal and has also struck a licensing deal with Warner Bros., which produced and distributed the Harry Potter movies.

The Harry Potter movies have been extremely popular in Japan, where the film series has grossed $893 million and has been seen by more than 78 million people in theaters.

Ichiro Matsui, the governor of Osaka, is expected to be on hand for the official announcement to be made by Glenn Gumpel, president and CEO, Universal Studios Japan; Brad Globe, president, Warner Bros. Consumer Products; and Michael Silver, president, Global Business Development, Universal Parks & Resorts. James and Oliver Phelps, who played the roles of Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter films, are also expected to attend as special guests.

"I was delighted to experience and enjoy the attention to detail, creativity and superb craft that went into the first Wizarding World in Orlando. I am equally delighted that the same level of expertise and enjoyment will translate to the new park in Japan," J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, said.

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“USJ is thrilled to be chosen to make the Harry Potter experience come alive for the people of Japan. USJ is committed to being the world’s best theme park and by bringing this brilliant story to Japan and creating a fantastic experience is yet another validation of that commitment,” Gumpel said.

Stuart Craig, who was production designer for the entire Harry Potter film series and who oversaw the creation of The Wizarding World of Harry Potterin Orlando, will also oversee the team creating its Japanese facsimile.

To date, the seven Harry Potter books have sold approximately 450 million copies worldwide, while the eight films have grossed more than $7.7 billion.

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