ORLANDO, Fla., June 20 -- MCA Inc. and Marvel Entertainment Group announced a deal Monday to make Marvel characters such as Spider- Man and X-Men a major part of the upcoming expansion of MCA's Universal Studios Florida theme park.
An MCA spokesman said the licensed Marvel Comics characters will be transformed into rides, shows and attractions at the proposed new Orlando theme park.
As previously announced by MCA and The Rank Organisation Plc, MCA's joint venture partner in the project, the new theme park will be part of Universal's multi-billion dollar resort to be known as Universal City Florida in Orlando.
Officials expect to open the new park sometime in 1999. Director Steven Spielberg will be Universal's creative consultant throughout its expansion, MCA officials said.
'With the enormous world-wide popularity of Marvel characters and Universal's proven cutting edge...technology, we have an unbeatable combination,' said Ron Bension, chairman of MCA Recreation Services Group.
The MCA-Marvel partnership also includes plans for themed retail outlets featuring licensed Marvel merchandise, which will also be installed at other Universal theme parks in the United States and overseas, said Terry Steward, president and chief operating officer of Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc.
Marvel is the nation's largest comic book publisher, and also the creator of the Fox network's 'X-Men,' currently the top children's animated show on television.
A Spider-Man movie, directed by James Cameron, is also in the works.
The Marvel-MCA agreement is the latest in a series of entertainment industry deals made by Revlon owner Ronald Perelman, who also owns 80 percent of Marvel.
Last month, Perelman orchestrated a deal with Rupert Murdoch's Fox Broadcasting Co. which gave the Fox network 12 new affiliates, at the expense of the older TV networks, in exchange for a $500 million investment in Perelman's New World Communications.
Last week, Perelman hired former NBC entertainment chief Brandon Tartikoff to run New World's production operations, which includes the development of new Marvel characters for future Fox children's programs. Those characters will also fall under the terms of the new MCA-Marvel agreement.