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Dalian Wanda head slams Disney Shanghai Resort
Wang Jianlin, the billionaire head of Chinese entertainment and real estate company the Dalian Wanda Group, has slammed the Walt Disney Company's soon-to-open new Shanghai theme park, saying it faces high costs and other hurdles.
The rare public criticism from Wang, made in an interview with state-run China Central Television (CCTV), underlines rising tension as his Wanda Group prepares to battle for market-share in China’s fast-growing leisure market.
Wang, whose own leisure projects will be competing with the new US$5.5 billion Disney Shanghai Resort stated “as far as the opening of the Disney Shanghai park goes, I'm sure that we will win out.
"At Wanda I always say we want to ensure Disney is not profitable for 10-20 years in this business segment in China."
Disney and its local government-linked partner, which owns a majority stake in the new Resort will be a direct rival to Wanda, which has just commenced construction on a CN¥16 billion (US$2.44 billion) tourism ‘city’ in southwest China and will open a Wanda World theme park in south eastern city of Nanchang in the coming week.
He suggested that Disney has misread the Chinese market and shouldn’t have stepped on his home turf, adding “one tiger is no match for a pack of wolves - Shanghai has one Disney, while Wanda, across the nation, will open 15 to 20 (attractions).”
While Wang has criticised Disney before, his latest comments signals an escalation in the rivalry between the world’s biggest entertainment company and China’s largest. At stake is dominance of China’s $610 billion tourism industry, which the government predicts will double by 2020 amid a growing middle class.
Jennifer So, a tourism analyst at Hong Kong-based China Securities International stated “Wanda is really threatened by Disney.
“Wanda’s skill at operating theme parks has not been proven and they have to find the right management team.”
Wanda, founded in 1988, has businesses ranging from commercial properties to films and finance, and the conglomerate had assets of 634 billion yuan (US$97 billion) and revenue of 290 billion yuan in 2015. By comparison, Disney’s revenue for the 12 months to 3rd October 2015 grew 8.1% to US $52.5 billion.
Wang has previously said Wanda aims to surpass Disney as the world’s largest tourism company by 2020.
Wang was also critical of Disney’s vast intellectual property rights, suggesting they had become a burden, concluding “the days of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck being able to create a frenzy are over.
“They are entirely cloning previous intellectual property, cloning previous products with no innovation.”
Images: Wang Jianlin (top) and an artist's impression of the Shanghai Disney Resort (below).
8th May 2016 - SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND BEGINS PRE-OPENING TRIAL OPERATIONS
2nd April 2016 - IRONMAN 70.3 RACES TO BE HELD IN CHINA
21st March 2016 - WANDA GROUP PARTNERS WITH FIFA
14th January 2016 - 16TH JUNE OPENING DATE SET FOR SHANGHAI DISNEY RESORT
12th November 2015 - WANDA GROUP PLAN NEW GOLD COAST THEME PARK
5th September 2015 - MORE THAN 50 THEME PARKS UNDER DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA
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