Disney Named as Defendant in Fox Theme Park Lawsuit
Back in 2013, 20th Century Fox announced its first-ever theme park in Malaysia, hoping it could use state-of-the-art technology to compete with the likes of Disney. Then, Fox was purchased…and will merge with Disney. Now with the merger just weeks away from finalizing, completion of the park is in doubt.
According to Variety, resort company Genting Malaysia Berhad has filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against Fox and Disney, alleging that Fox has been attempting to back out of the deal since the Disney merger was announced. Genting is the owner of the Genting Highlands Resort, where the Fox theme park is being built. The resort is home to a casino, several hotels, and a shopping mall. Genting is also responsible for the theme park, 20th Century Fox World, licensing the Fox intellectual property.
In the suit, Genting also alleges that Disney has taken over the lead for Fox on the project, and that they are attempting to kill the deal because the park would be located near a casino, saying “Disney wanted no association with a gaming company like [Genting] due to Disney’s ‘family-friendly’ brand strategy.” Cancelling the deal, according to the suit, would force Genting to make accelerated payments for the Fox license, and “protect Disney’s existing parks from increased competition and ‘protect’ its ‘family-friendly’ brand.”
The park has already been hit with numerous delays, pushing it back well beyond its initial 2016 opening date. Genting claims that Fox has used these delays as a justification for pulling out. Further, they claim that Fox is responsible for most of the delays, withholding approval for certain elements and withdrawing approval that was previously agreed upon for others. According to the suit, digital assets for the Ice Age franchise were not provided by Fox, causing Genting to have to recreate the characters from scratch. Meanwhile, Fox did not give their support to Genting in their efforts to secure rights to clips from the Planet of the Apes series from the estate of Charlton Heston.
Recently, Fox issued a notice of default, requiring the park to open within thirty days or they would break the deal, causing Genting to file suit. The park is currently expected to open sometime next year.
Fox declined to comment on the suit. With the way things are heading, it’s expected that the park may not open at all and will become collateral damage as a result of the Disney-Fox deal.