Tag: lawsuits

Claims and Answers: Three juicy tidbits from the Genting-Fox-Disney lawsuit


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)

Dancing_AlienIn 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.”


The Other Side of the News: A very Asia-centric end of November 2018 edition

Fox World Malaysia. Photo credit: Danny Yap
This just in from Asia….

Back in December last year I wrote about the Disney acquisition of FOX:

One of the biggest unknowns surrounds the Fox World theme park currently being built at Resorts World Genting in Malaysia. Construction is well underway, but would Disney allow a Fox-only theme park operated by a company that operates a Universal Studios-licensed park in nearby Singapore to exist? I expect that over the next six months, we’ll find out the fate of the Malaysia park – if it will continue as is under its current contract, or if Disney will sink its participation in the project faster than the Titanic attraction going into it, causing Genting to seek out another (or multiple other) studio(s) to partner with.

Well, it took a little longer than that as today Genting filed a lawsuit against Fox and Disney for many alleged acts of evil deedery. Click here to read the initial filing. I’ll share more about the case as the courts make more available.

Meanwhile, in Asia….
Wang Yonghong’s photo in the China Rich List 2015. Credit: Forbes (he was worth $850 million at the time)

It appears that Wang Yonghong remains in self-imposed exile in Hong Kong. He’s the owner of Zhonghong Zhuoye Group, the majority shareholder of Zhonghong Holdings, in case you didn’t know. I’d say he’s also the majority shareholder of SeaWorld Entertainment, but things are afoot behind the scenes that I’m not yet ready to discuss. Statewide, while Yoshi Maruyama retains the position of Chairman of the Board at SeaWorld Entertainment, it appears that he is no longer doing so as President of Zhonghong Americas LLC.

As for Zhonghong Holdings, the stock delisting process started on Friday, November 16 and will be completed on the final trading day of the year, December 28. A government mandated meeting with creditors that had been scheduled for November 16 has been postponed indefinitely due to Zhonghong just not having the documentation and analysis ready to deal with the hundreds of parties that filed against the company as creditors.

And now, a short break for a behind-the-scenes look at how rumors become news.
The internet is full of passionate people. When that passion conflicts with statements on the internet, the outcome resembles a rabid raccoon stuck upside down in a trashcan full of cocaine. Although I know a Loro Parque staffer I was speaking with was joking about the name, I figured what the hell, and posted this photo on Facebook with the caption, “Newly released photo of Baby Ingrid at Loro Parque.” 43,000 views and 28 followers banned.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Welcome to the funhouse known as ThemedReality.

Two executives within a company involved in the proceedings told me that Six Flags was in talks to purchase all or or part of SeaWorld Entertainment. I was given permission by these individuals to post this information on grounds of anonymity. I was given additional information confidentially by these sources, but I adhere very closely to my six rules, so don’t expect those juicy tidbits to be shared until they’re public record.

The first thing I did after speaking with these executives was to attempt to contact the corporate PR directors at both chains for comment. I didn’t receive a response from either and made the decision to post the statement on the Facebook page and monitor feedback.

Now, if you look at the disclaimers that appear on both this blog and its accompanying Facebook page (in the Our Story window), you’ll see that:


Within an hour after posting, a follower of ThemedReality who happens to be a self-proclaimed expert on orca captivity, and who operates a website with the domain www.fromthedolphinspointofview.com, decided to tip off a reporter with the Orlando Sentinel. Although the reporter appears to have looked at the Facebook page, she never contacted me (though I must credit her for attempting to contact the theme park operators). Neither did individuals reporting on my post for the Orlando Business Journal and Orlando Weekly. In journalism, contacting a source before running a story is called due diligence and it’s part of the vetting process.

Yet, although this practice may not be the norm in Orlando, once the Sentinel article had hit the newswires and become international news, I was contacted by a number of major publications from the US, Canada, and the UK (it’s not that hard to contact me, even if it’s through a Facebook or twitter instant message). I explained to these reporters how this was a non-news story, that it should be considered nothing more than rumor, and a statement too broad and ambiguous to accurately interpret. They all agreed and it did not run in those publications.

One of the more interesting comments I found on a discussion thread accused me of panicking when I wrote two additional Facebook posts – one breaking down and analyzing the statement and the other disclosing that I do not own stock in either company – a preemptive move as the non-news mainstream media spread rumor had now bumped up share value at both companies. While this individual may call it panic, I call it being responsible. But I’m thankful for the hyperlinks in his comment to my posts. I learned a long time ago that the more people you piss off or get to ridicule you, the more likely it is that someone opposed to your stance will link to your post. And more links = more hits. It doesn’t really help me out financially. I’m not making $58,200** doing this. I’m not running ads on the blog (if you see ads, the money goes to WordPress), and I’m not in it for the notoriety. After all, this blog and its Facebook page are nothing more than my personal opinion and observations (it’s in the disclaimer), which is why, for the life of me, I have no idea why this small little blog nobody’s ever heard of recorded 72,000 hits in the first ten months of the year. Someone must be reading.

So now, this thing’s gone national. There’s analysis on message boards, videos are being made, and even the Motley Fool’s weighing in. What I found most interesting in following this is how many people took the statement verbatim. Everything I read was off the mark – with the exception of analysis by the website Behind the Thrills, where I’m an occasional contributor. The site’s owners were kind enough to not only contact me, but to enter into lengthy discussions about what I could share with them. But as strange as this might sound, the bloggers that took their information from or plagiarized Behind the Thrills still got their facts very wrong.

So how can this be?

Without breaking confidentiality, I can share one of the techniques I use when researching a personal blog post or a professional article that I’m writing for the day job. Often, it’s a matter of reading between the lines, looking at how words are grouped, and finding the message that isn’t on the surface.

In the Facebook post, I wrote:

Reliable sources inform me that Six Flags Entertainment Corporation is in talks to purchase all or part of SeaWorld Entertainment. More as details become available.

I never mentioned who Six Flags was in talks with.

Now, in all fairness, if Six Flags, SeaWorld, or another company involved contacts me and states on the record that talks never took place, I will gladly post a correction. But three weeks after the initial posting, that has yet to happen.

Finally, in Asia…..

Osaka has been named the host city of the 2025 World Expo. Congratulations!

The blog Disney and more writes that this is huge news for Universal Studios Japan, located in Osaka, and very bad news for Tokyo Disneyland. I couldn’t disagree more, and here’s why.

The error lies in a gross misunderstanding of the business of world’s fairs and their impacts on local tourism economies. Whereas Olympic Games welcome the majority of their visitors from foreign territories, World Expos invite local populations to see the best that other countries have to offer.

For the 2025 Expo, organizers anticipate just over 28 million visitors – 3.5 million from foreign territories and 24.7 million from Japan. Japanese are very loyal to the Tokyo Disney Resort and it’s highly unlikely that a visit to Osaka would result in not visiting Disney, rather that Disney would be scheduled for a different trip. Many of these local visitors will be visiting the Expo on a day trip basis (Osaka is only 3 1/2 hours from Tokyo via bullet train), and therefore will probably hit Expo but leave Universal for another holiday.

As for foreign visitors, based on travel patterns from past world expos (and most of the foreign visitors to Osaka are anticipated to be from the Asia-Pacific region), they are expected to make multi-day, multi-city trips involving the Expo along other cities and attractions across the country, including Disney.

Another important factor is the kind of visitor to World Expos, which tend to be multi-generational families, and both Disney and Universal have figured out how to cater to that demographic. So, based on visitor composition, it could go either way based on preference – and the same problem exists in Japan as in the Southern California and Orlando market for families with limited time – Mickey Mouse and Wreck-it Ralph or Harry Potter and Nintendo?

**$58,200 is how much the US government paid an orca expert for a few months of research that was ultimately canceled. I’ll explain how and why in a future post.