One of my favorite pastimes is having the ThemedReality unpaid interns scour through tens of thousands of financial and court documents, looking for the juicy stuff that mainstream press and other bloggers often miss.
Here are three of my favorites from the Genting lawsuit against Disney and Fox, which should be interesting going forward now that Disney has acquired the Fox subsidiaries that were being sued.
Background in a nutshell:
In 2013, Genting, the owners of the Resorts World brand (which owns Universal Studios Singapore at Resorts World Sentosa under a license from Comcast), announced that it would begin construction on a licensed 20th Century Fox theme park at its Genting Highlands resort in Malaysia.
In 2018, Fox backed out of the project and was sued by Genting, as was Disney, which Genting accused of being the mastermind behind Fox’s decision.
JUICY BIT #1: A respectable themed entertainment design firm didn’t act so respectable (claim #35)
Genting claims that Fox insisted it replace the vendor working on a Planet of the Apes attraction with “a firm that employed individuals who were already providing consulting services to Fox (either in their individual capacities or as firm representatives).” Genting goes on to state that it discovered the new firm not only lacked experience, but that it “learned that the firm was secretly attempting to partner with third-party vendors and have them submit bids in their own names, while agreeing with them that it would perform the work in a “subcontractor’ capacity.”
What we find interesting is that in its answer to the claim, Fox kind agrees with this last point. “The Fox Defendants admit that Fox recommended that Genting retain a vendor to assist with the Planet of the Apes attraction, that Genting made the decision to retain that vendor, and that Genting subsequently alleged that this vendor had sought to interfere with other potential vendors, and terminated the vendor on that basis. Fox supported the termination and also stopped work with the vendor.”
Who’s the vendor? We don’t know. It’s not mentioned in the court documents so far. Perhaps it will come up during trial, which will either start later this year or some time next year. Genting is arguing that the discovery process could take up to a year, primarily due to privacy laws in Malaysia. Disney believes discovery could be completed by September. In the meantime, I have my suspicions (which won’t be shared here) and have hedged my bets at a Malaysian casino.
JUICY BIT #2: Disney wants none of its intellectual properties near casinos (claim #59)
The history behind this is a bit completed and involves a pre-exisiting conflict between Disney and Genting over the development of a large scale Resorts World integrated resort in Miami, which I won’t cover here, but likely will in a future piece.
Genting argues: “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. For example, on information and belief, after acquiring LucasFilm and Marvel Entertainment, Disney decided to phase out Star Wars and Marvel themed slot machines in the United States. Disney has also used its financial muscle to fight the expansion of casinos in Florida—the hub of Disney’s theme park empire. Disney has, on information and belief, spent tens of millions of dollars in those efforts and at least $20 million dollars in the 2018 election cycle alone to support the passage of the Florida ballot initiative Amendment 3, which reportedly will make it more difficult for casinos—clear competition to Disney’s parks—to be approved by the state. 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.”
In its answer to Genting’s claim,”Disney admits that certain Disney-affiliated entities have discontinued plans to initiate or renew slot machine licensing arrangements relating to the Star Wars and Marvel franchises. Disney further admits that certain Disney-affiliated entities contributed to a ballot measure committee that supported Florida ballot initiative Amendment 3 in 2018. Except as expressly admitted, Disney denies the allegations in Paragraph 59.”
Now, here’s the problem I have with this particular claim: Genting filed its lawsuit against Fox and Disney on November 26, 2018. On December 6, 2018, interactive VR attraction company The VOID opened its first Asian location at Skytropolis Funland, the new indoor theme park at Resorts World Genting (yes, the resort actually has a second theme park besides the outdoor Fox World Malysia). Opening programs at the new VOID location were none other than Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire and Ralph Breaks VR. Both programs use Disney IP and were developed by The VOID in conjunction with Disney and its subsidiaries. So it makes me wonder how Disney could mastermind a removal of its intellectual properties from a casino resort while allowing the usage of other Disney IP in another location at the same resort at the same time.
JUICY BIT #3: The Alien vs Predator cruise-ship style dance show (counterclaim #46b)
In its countersuit, Fox attempts to show that Genting did not understand the intellectual properties it was working with. Among its examples: the Alien vs Predator Dance Show.
Fox states: “Demonstrating how little thought it gave to the integrity of Fox’s intellectual property, Genting proposed taking some of Fox’s most significant science fiction film properties— Alien, Predator, and Alien vs. Predator—and using the main characters in a cruise ship-style dance show, featuring a dancing Alien and Predator.”
But in its answer to the claim, Genting says the show wasn’t its idea: “[Genting] never proposed having a dancing Alien or a dancing Predator in a ‘cruise ship-style dance show.’ Rather, it was Fox that suggested ‘a stylized costumed Colonial Marines, Predators, and Aliens dance show,’ including that ‘Predators then perform a ‘dance’ circle outside of the circle of Marines.’ Accordingly, [Genting] designed a show in which the Colonial Marines would simulate action/fight scenes involving two Predators and an Alien. Moreover, it was Fox that demonstrated a lack of understanding as to how its own IP should be represented, as Fox requested significant changes to the show concept it had already approved and its representatives gave conflicting guidance as to what they wanted to see in the show. For example, one Fox representative instructed [Genting] to ‘[a]dd some comic guest interaction between Colonial Marines and guests,’ while a few months later, another Fox representative countermanded that instruction, stating that ‘[c]omedy is off brand from the properties (not comedic movies).’ These types of mixed messages from Fox, along with the aforementioned bad-faith Fox conduct in connection with the approval process—not [Genting]’s actions—caused the delays about which Fox complains.”