Resorts World Genting is razing a 35-year-old iron ride park in Malaysia’s Genting Highlands to make way for the world’s first Twentieth Century Fox theme park.
Twentieth Century Fox World will be built on a 25-acre site featuring more than 25 rides and attractions based on famous Fox content including “Alien vs. Predator,” “Ice Age,” “Night at the Museum,” “Rio,” and “Planet of the Apes.”
“We really are in the franchise business at Fox,” says Greg Lombardo, Twentieth -Century Fox’s vice president of global location-based entertainment. “Developing franchises allows us to really, frankly, support a much higher level of capital expenditure on the attractions. These are properties that will be in the public’s eye for a long time to come. We know these characters, and now it’s a chance to bring them to life in very new and exciting ways.”
By the time the new theme park opens, there will be five “Ice Age” movies, three new “Planet of the Apes” (counting the sequels coming out in 2014 and 2016), a second “Rio,” and a third “Night at the Museum.” These movies are not only hugely popular in the United States, but at overseas box offices, as well.
The venue for the park in Malaysia—which Fox sees in some ways as a proof of concept for larger parks elsewhere—is located up a steep drive alongside a thriving casino about an hour from Kuala Lumpur. It was formerly home to an iron ride park built with slightly themed off-the-shelf attractions. The new park designed by Fox and Genting, with an eye to detail and a goal of immersing visitors in blockbuster content, could not be more different.
“We’re going to be able to bring these environments to life in a way that gets us away from that formulaic approach of ‘I’m going to go from attraction to attraction to attraction,’” explains Lombardo, who brings a creative edge to his job after working previously as an independent film producer and serving five years as the head of New York’s National Shakespeare Company.
“This is going to be an opportunity for people to literally go inside of Scrat’s fantasy that we’ve seen in the movies, his pursuit of the acorn … We’re going to really put people—when they enter the Ice Age environment—in that world.”
The desire to make every inch in the park count is also driven by geography—the site extends to the edge of a cliff. But Fox and Genting plan to make it seem bigger than it is by building some of the attractions underground.
“When you’re dealing with a smaller footprint, like we are, we’re going to rely on a highly detailed environment to provide those surprises and moment-by-moment experiences that are going to extend the dwell time in a way that maybe you don’t necessarily have the challenge of if you have a hundred acres to play with,” says Lombardo. “We’re [also] going to go below the deck on some of the rides, so we’ll be basically doubling up on square footage that way. In cases where you have dark attractions, we can go below grade and increase the footprint that way.”
Designing its own branded theme park represents a strategic switch for Twentieth Century Fox, which has previously licensed content to other big players in the industry. Some of the studio’s most famous blockbusters—like “Avatar” (licensed to Disney) and “The Simpsons” (Universal Studios)—will be noticeably absent from Malaysia as a result of past deals. But striking out in a bigger way seems like a no-brainer to Lombardo.
“Why wouldn’t we be doing theme parks?” he asks. “With these kind of properties at our fingertips, why would we simply hand [them] over to others to put within their theme parks? Why not create theme parks around those properties that we can really control and have a say [in]?”
The deal with Genting is still based on a licensing model. Fox provides the intellectual property while Genting invests $300 million to build and operate the park
; the difference is Fox now has a dedicated team to place its stamp on the park.
Fox and Genting expect most guests are likely to be Malaysian and Chinese nationals who regularly visit Genting to gamble—significant for Fox, which has ambitions to expand to China. The companies won’t say how many visitors are expected when Twentieth Century Fox World opens in 2016, but they expect it to be much higher than the 2 million who frequented Genting’s old park.
- See more at: http://www.iaapa.org/news/funworld/funw ... b6v10.dpuf