Fox unit mulls plans for mega theme park in China

January 26, 2016 19:08
China presents an opportunity for a movie-based mega theme park, says Jeffrey Godsick.

Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products, a unit of media giant Twenty-First Century Fox, is looking at opportunities that may allow it to build a Fox-branded theme park in China, following previous moves in Malaysia and Dubai.

"There is certainly an opportunity in China, where we can build a mega theme park that could attract more than 10 million people a year," Jeffrey Godsick, president of Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products, told EJ Insight in an interview in Hong Kong.

"Macau does not have the land base for a theme park while Hong Kong has a lot of saturation with Disneyland and Ocean Park. In terms of catchment, there are a lot of opportunities in Guangdong cities such as Zhuhai and Guangzhou," Godsick said. 

"The decision will be less about Hong Kong but more about Guangdong province, which is not saturated," he said.

Godsick said he has visited Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Hengqin, Zhuhai and found the theme park to be quite amazing. The park is said to have attracted 7 million visitors in the first eight months since it opened its doors at the end of March 2014, he noted.

The Fox official said he will not rule out the possibility of choosing second-tier cities in Northern China for locating his company's theme park. 

"China is the only place in the world that has a giant catchment of 50 million people living in a 3-hour drive or trainway. We are looking at a number of opportunities there," Godsick said.

Malaysia and Dubai

In December 2013, Twentieth Century Fox announced that it had teamed up with leisure and hospitality firm Genting Malaysia to build a theme park named "20th Century Fox World" in Malaysia. 

The park, spread over an area of 25 acres, will feature more than 25 rides and attractions based on Fox films such as Ice Age, Rio, Alien vs. Predator, Planet of the Apes and Night at the Museum.

Genting Malaysia said at the time that they would invest US$300 million in the theme park, which was expected to commence operation in 2016. Last year, a revised schedule -- third quarter of 2017 -- was announced for the opening of the facility. 

Godsick said the locations of its theme parks reflect Twentieth Century Fox's global brand portfolio, which includes a broad range of movie brands. When making a decision about the theme park locations, a key factor is the availability of suitable partners, he said. 

Twentieth Century Fox chose to partner with Genting Malaysia as it is one of the largest resort operators in the world. The company operates more than 10,000 hotel rooms, 75 restaurants, an indoor mall and golf resort in Genting Highlands, among other facilities. 

"They have 20 million people visiting Genting Highlands per year. There are very few sites in the world that can attract that volume of people," Godsick said.

Last November, Twentieth Century Fox announced a partnership with Dubai-based Al Ahli Holding Group to build a theme park, also named "20th Century Fox World", and resort in Dubai. That attraction is expected to open in 2018.

"Dubai is a different strategy. About 70 million people go to the Dubai airport a year but most of them just don't stay," Godsick said.

As more tourism facilities, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, have commenced operations in Dubai and some others such as Legoland will open soon, the Middle East city has become increasingly attractive to tourists, he noted. 

"All of a sudden, there is a reason for people to stop in Dubai for 3 to 4 days. We want to be a part of the attractions," he said.

According to Godsick, construction of the “20th Century Fox World" in Dubai will kick off in 4 to 5 months.

IP rights protection in China

Godsick was in Hong Kong earlier this month to attend the HKTDC Hong Kong International Licensing Show.

He said he detected increased efforts on the part of authorities in Hong Kong, China and some Asian countries to protect intellectual property rights.

Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products is confident that its partners in China will help tackle the problem as they will be the first to know when there are pirated and counterfeit goods in the market, he said.

The anti-corruption fight by the Chinese government has also helped in protecting intellectual property rights, Godsick added.

However, he said more work should be done to change people’s mindset about IP rights.

"From a very shallow viewpoint, some people think the movie stars make so much money so it’s alright for them to steal the content," he said.

People should realize that the issue "is not about movie stars, but the thousands of people who make the content," said Godsick.

"When people steal the content or pirate T-shirts or other items, they are actually stealing from all the people in the movie industry, not just big production companies or stars."

While awareness is increasing in Asia, the region is "not there yet", Godsick said.

"It is certainly moving in the right direction, but there's a long way to go before it ends."

[Chinese version中文版]

(Ice Age 5)

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Chief reporter at EJ Insight