What Convinced Nintendo to Get into the Theme Park Business?
A just-published English translation of a conversation with Satoru Iwata
, President of Nintendo, reveals more about how the video game company's deal with Universal Parks & Resorts happened.
Nintendo and Universal last week announced that Universal Creative would develop Nintendo-themed attractions for the Universal Studios theme parks worldwide. In his responses, Mr. Iwata reveals that Universal approached Nintendo with a proposal, ultimately winning over Nintendo executives with the detail of their its as well as its track record working with outside intellectual property on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
In the case of our first meeting with Universal Parks & Resorts, they provided us with a very detailed proposal right from the beginning. Also, as we met right after they had opened the Harry Potter attractions, we were able to learn precisely how they had been created. We received a great deal of useful information from the first meeting for us to review if they possessed a corporate culture which would ensure us the ability to license our IP to them and to work well together. Since the proposal was so specific, as soon as I returned to Japan, I informed Mr. Miyamoto, of our company, and told him that I wanted to give positive consideration to it. Since then, we have met with them several times in Japan and in the U.S., and not only me and people who carry out our negotiations but also members from each company's creative side, namely, people who will be assigned to make the actual attractions and Nintendo's game producers who have been creating our games for many years. As a result, we confirmed that we share a lot of common ground between our corporate cultures, and because parts of the proposal made us really excited, we have decided to work together on a long-term basis.
Here are two remarkable take-aways from Mr. Iwata's response:
1. Universal essentially designed a Nintendo land before even talking with Nintendo.
Keep this in mind the next time you hear a rumor from someone who knows someone in Universal Creative, Walt Disney Imagineering, or any other themed attraction design shop. Theme park designers work on an immense number of projects that never make it to construction, including many that they develop on spec. Some projects eventually morph into another thing that does get built, some get set aside for years before proceeding, and some just never emerge beyond the concept stage. Some of these designs can proceed to a very detailed level before stalling. So just because someone knows that someone is working on plans for a particular project shouldn't lead anyone to believe that fans will be getting to go on that ride anytime soon.
2. Harry Potter continues to reshape the theme park industry.
Does Universal land Nintendo without The Wizarding World of Harry Potter providing a highly lucrative and critically acclaimed, physical example of how Universal can develop and care for another company's IP? I don't think so. Potter showed everyone in the creative arts industry that Universal Creative isn't just talk and spec plans — that it can develop an IP into a world-class attraction that enriches all parties involved. Furthermore, Potter's recency assures potential IP partners that they will be working with the same creative teams at Universal that developed Potter — Universal isn't riding on the work of past generations of designers who have retired or passed away. All this shows IP owners that they have an option other than Disney or going it on their own if they want to expand their franchise into a theme park property. This new industry dynamic has now drawn Nintendo into the theme park business. Who else might it draw off the sidelines and into the game?
h/t to Parkscope for the interview link.
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The results are always going to be better when the creative people are the ones pushing for it. Unlike Disney, with Avatar, where the top brass told WDI what the direction was first.
Harry Potter is a great example of Universal's ability to execute, but your second point is completely invalid. It's also kind of insulting to Universal's team.
@50. I don't think that's accurate. The top brass pushed the proposal to James Cameron after Disney already developed the technology in-house.
What Convinced Nintendo to Get into the Theme Park Business? Cause Nintendo is strapped for cash after the Wii U bombed... :D
I would have to argue that Indiana Jones land wouldn't make sense. Harry Potter and Cars are no brainiers because they exist in a world that doesn't actually exist. Star Tours was worked into an existing building and land at Disneyland and then found a home in Flordia. Star Wars could easily have its own theme park, and so could Harry Potter. But the great thing about Disney in the past was that it used IP as well as original concepts. Now everything is about synergy and easy money, which Walt was never about. Sure he practically invented synergy, but Disneyland spoke for itself. He Lived in the real world and he did cut budgets of his films and theme parks. That said, he still took lots of risks, Disneyland itself being his biggest one. Today Universal as well as Disney are all about making what's most likely going to be a hit. This has meant new rides that are only based on successful franchises, and lots of movies that are remakes sequels and spinoffs. This doesn't mean Universal and Disney arent making great things, just that's it's nothing new.
"Sadly everything is about synergy and easy money, which Walt was never about."
Didn't Nintendo have a pretty good death grip on their IP when it came to theme parks? And look now. Can anyone else think of a group tight in control of a really hot IP, one I'm sure
Any financial investment is a gamble, but Disney as well as Universal only does what they think will be highly successful, and rides based on franchises are a fairly safe bet. Every new ride is based on a franchise because it's less likely to fail. Iger said that himself. Disney wants to avoid making another Superstar Limo but it's also avoiding making the next Haunted Mansion or Space Mountain. Recreating a movie can be awesome but it's not the only thing Disney has to offer.
Harry Potter: the messiah of both the Wizard World and of Universal parks! That's one talented kid right there! His parents must be so proud! Oh, wait...
As awesome as Harry Potter 1&2 are, this seems sketchy. Sure, you can do your research on how many impressions the key demographic that they target and frame that up with how many of them grew up on Nintendo systems.
"Disney wants to avoid making another Superstar Limo but it's also avoiding making the next Haunted Mansion or Space Mountain."
Yeah, I'm kinda confused as to why we're bashing Disney and Universal here. As Anon said, the entire point of Universal is that their attractions are based on existing IPs. They pretty much want to put you right in the middle of the action of your favorite movies and shows. (And apparently video games) The only popular Universal ride technically not based on an IP is Rip Ride Rockit; which is a great ride, but as far as theming goes, not so much (" are you ready to rock out and make music video history? Heck Yeah! Hasta...Rasta...Pasta...whatever it is they say!")
I love Nintendo and I can't wait!
Nintendo has something that (relatively) new video game franchises like Halo do not have: A big audience and nostalgia to draw on. Generations of non-gamers have grown up with Nintendo properties (that Mario guy is still pretty popular) and that wide spread is what, to me, makes this a good idea.
"As for video games let's look at the Wii. For that system, we got all the Usual Suspects: Mario, Zelda, Pokemon, Smash Bros, Sonic...but how many people played Okami, a truly groundbreaking game that featured an original story with original characters?"
Court E, I know that Sonic and Okami aren't owned by Nintendo. I was trying to make a point of how nostalgic franchises (like Sonic) sold much better on the wii then Okami.
Oh, wait just reread your comment and saw you weren't trying to correct me. Sorry!
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