Wanda Chairman Wang: Disney "Shouldn't Have Entered China"

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Wang Jianlin

Wang Jianlin gave a frank interview to state broadcaster CCTV in which he said Disney was guilty of cloning tired IP and lacking innovation.

Wang Jianlin, the chairman of the sprawling theme parks to movie studio conglomerate Dalian Wanda, blasted Disney for its attempts to grab a foothold in China, saying that the company "shouldn't have entered" just as the $5.5 billion Shanghai Disneyland is set to open its doors on June 16.

Wang was speaking on CCTV, China's state broadcaster, on Sunday night, where he expounded on all things Disney and how his company was ideally suited to best the Western interloper in the Middle Kingdom.

Wang said Disney was guilty of underestimating his company, which recently purchased Hollywood studio Legendary, saying the American company "didn’t believe that China has Wanda."

As well as being the world's largest property developer, Wanda has plans in place to build upon the its upon its network of theme parks. Among a multitude of other assets, Wanda, through brands such as AMC and Hoyts, is also the world's largest theater chain operator with over 6,000 screens.

"They shouldn’t have entered China," Wang said, adding that "Hong Kong is part of China, they shouldn’t have come to the Mainland." Pointing to Wanda opening 15 to 20 theme parks across China to Disney's yet to be opened one, Wang likened Disney to a tiger that was no match for "a pack of wolves." 

He added: "The pace of opening is faster, and every park of ours has its own business model, with constant innovation and combining indoor and outdoor parks. So I think that Disney’s prospects in China, at least its financial status, don’t look good to me.”

On China's first Disney theme park in Shanghai, Wang didn't hold back, saying: “I once said that Disney just has an outdoor amusement park with the advantage of having vast intellectual property rights. But this, in turn, has become a burden, as they can only use their intellectual property products to expand, and seldom do they research new business models."

He went on, "This raises a problem. Opening an entirely outdoor theme park in Shanghai, I personally feel that the climate isn’t advantageous, with heavy summer rainfall, the rainy season lasting tens of days, and the winters also quite cold.” 

Wang was firm in his belief that Disney was guilty of rehashing and squeezing tired intellectual property, with the company lacking a competitive edge and producing "no more innovation." Wang was also critical of the $5.5 billion price tag for the about-to-open Shanghai Disneyland, comparing the high cost unfavorably with Wanda's Nanchang park, which was similar in scale. He added, "So with the costs as high as they are, I’m certain they have to charge high prices to maintain a financial balance. But high prices will lose customers. So this is a high price problem in and of itself.”

 

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