The parent company of Resorts World Genting in Malaysia is suing Fox and Disney, alleging that Disney ordered Fox to terminate its licensing deal for the upcoming Fox World theme park. Genting is seeking more than US$1 billion in damages.
Earlier this month at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, Dynamic Attractions wowed fans with plans for a "Duel Power Coaster" that it said would debt next year at a theme park in Malaysia.
Sources later confirmed that the ride — a next generation mashup of Radiator Springs Racers and Spider-Man ride tech — would power a motorcycle ride at the planned Fox World theme park under construction at Resorts World Genting. But the future of that park was thrown into doubt today when Resorts World's parent company filed a lawsuit against Fox and its soon-to-be-new owner Disney in a California court.
The filing reveals that Genting has spend more than $750 million developing the theme park, which it intended to be on par with the Universal Studios Singapore theme park at its sister Resorts World Sentosa development in neighboring Singapore. Genting is seeking damages in excess of $1 billion in an attempt to recoup its investment, as well as "consequential and punative" damages.
Genting said that Fox Entertainment Group, under direction from Disney, has issued a "notice of default" in an attempt to break its licensing deal with the Malaysian development. Genting further alleges that Fox has been stringing along the project in attempt to coerce Genting to renegotiate to give Fox a percentage of gate revenue, in addition to the agreed-upon licensing fee and food and souvenir commissions. But Genting also said that Disney had pushed Fox more recently to get out of the deal entirely, since Disney does not want to be associated with the casino that is the heart of the Resorts World Genting project.
Having made such a significant investment in Fox World, GENM [Genting Malaysia] has worked feverishly since 2013 to bring it to life as soon as possible and to recoup its investment. FEG, however, has fought GENM at nearly every turn, causing delay after delay. Examples include FEG’s early insistence that GENM replace one of its preferred vendors with FEG’s less qualified choice—a vendor whose inexperience and unethical business practices led to its termination from the project and months of delays; FEG’s untimely, repeated and continued unreasonable exercise of its approval rights under the parties’ agreement; FEG’s failure to provide industry standard style guides and digital assets for many of its licensed properties, including its very own 20th Century Fox logo; and FEG’s failure to provide the level of on-site support that is required under the parties’ Agreement and that is typically provided by the licensor of a branded theme park development of this size and scale.
One example that Genting cited was the "Century City Lake Spectacular" show that the park was to feature as its nighttime entertainment. Like similar shows at Disney, Universal, and Warner Bros. theme parks, it was to feature clips from famous Fox movies. But Genting said that Fox failed to provide clearances for the clips, and that the developer incurred costs in "hundreds of thousands of dollars and... many months of delays" as it had to ask its show design vendor to redo the production using only the clips for which Genting could obtain legal clearance.
"Clear from the timing of these events was that Disney—regardless of whether it was legally permissible under applicable antitrust laws—was intervening in the GENM/FEG negotiations and calling the shots for FEG. Having long adopted anti-gambling policies based on its 'family-friendly' brand image, Disney has a history of eliminating any ties to gambling held by its acquired companies," the filing states. "With Fox World located just outside the casinos in the Genting Highlands integrated resort, it comes as no surprise that Disney would, on information and belief, try to kill the Fox World deal in a transparent attempt to 'protect' the Disney brand."
Update: Here's the statement from Disney, courtesy a spokesperson: "The claims made against Disney in this matter are utterly without merit."
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