Hong Kong's Disneyland to Host Marvel Superheroes

Wang Xueqi h Iron Man 2012

Made popular in China by the success of "The Avengers," the superheroes will have their own “themed area” in Disney's only site in the country.

HONG KONG – It might be the smallest Disneyland in the world, but Hong Kong’s site will soon boast something unique, as the city’s financial chief unveils plans for the theme park to host an area dedicated to Marvel’s superheroes.

Introducing his annual financial budget at the city’s legislature Wednesday, John Tsang Chun-wah said Disneyland Hong Kong’s Marvel section will be “the first of its kind in the world” when it is launched within “the coming few years.” The park, which is 52 percent owned by the city’s government, will pay for the project with its operating surpluses, Tsang said.

According to local press accounts, the Marvel-themed area will be completed by 2017. Decisions will be made within the next few months about the one or two characters that will be introduced as the core of that extension.

The plan is in line with Disney’s earlier announcement that it planned to introduce more elements from Marvel Entertainment into its theme parks, with the corporation having acquired the latter in 2009 for $4 billion. And Hong Kong’s theme park -- which has proved to be a big pull for tourists coming in from mainland China -- could be seen as a good entry point for such an approach, given the success of films featuring Marvel’s superheroes in Chinese-speaking markets.

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The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man were the fourth and 10th highest-grossing international releases on mainland China in 2012, respectively, taking a total of $141 million during their runs. One of the most anticipated blockbusters among the country’s younger audience is Iron Man 3, a collaboration between Marvel and DMG Entertainment which was partly shot in Beijing and features Chinese actors Wang Xueqi and Fan Bingbing.

Hong Kong Disneyland’s film-inspired expansion plans also are in line with the numerous film-related theme park projects on mainland China. Last year, Huayi Brothers and Mission Hills signed on to develop a site dedicated to the work of director Feng Xiaogang, while Stephen Chow Sing-chi inked a deal last week on an entertainment complex and tourist resort based on his screen adaptations of the novel Journey to the West.

The director’s latest stab, Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons, is riding high in mainland China, having already taken $160.6 million since its release Feb. 10.