7:48am PT by Eriq Gardner
Fox Countersues Developer of Failed Malaysian Theme Park for $46 Million
When Alien vs. Predator comes up, does it evoke a cruise ship-style dance show, featuring a dancing Alien and Predator? Probably not, and in a countersuit filed Tuesday, a proposal for such an attraction is cited as an example of how the developer of a would-be theme park in Malaysia demonstrated "little thought" to the "integrity of Fox's intellectual property."
Back in 2013, 21st Century Fox signed a licensing deal with Genting Malaysia Berhad (GENB) for what would have been the studio's first branded theme park. Five years later, Fox and GENB are pointing fingers at each other in court over what went wrong.
In November, Genting struck first with a $1.75 billion suit. According to the theme park developer, Fox got "seller's remorse" after Rupert Murdoch sold his studio assets to Disney. Instead of realizing the fruits of the relationship, Genting says Fox kept throwing up roadblocks. Why? Fox was allegedly interested initially in extracting increased and accelerated license payments, but ultimately was intent on termination for another reason.
"Unlike Fox, which was perfectly happy to have the Park situated a stone’s throw from the casinos of Resorts World Genting so long as it could continue to extract financial concessions from GENM, Disney wanted no association with a gaming company like GENM due to Disney’s 'family-friendly' brand strategy," stated the complaint.
Of course, Fox now tells a different tale.
Claiming that it was Genting that breached the contract, Fox alleges that the project failed after the developer failed to ignore quality standards time after time.
"Because it often proceeded without plans, approval or much thought at all, Genting built buildings that were too tall for the themed faccades constructed to house them, built parade floats that were so large that they left no room on the street for spectators, built an attraction without including the designed (or any) evacuation route, and routinely had to retrofit, if not tear down, its prematurely built structures to accommodate either Fox’s approved plans or the intended use of the project," states Fox's new court filing.
Fox adds, "At other times, Genting simply changed approved attractions at the whim of its Chairman, including changing the Park’s planned central design element — the iconic Twentieth Century Fox logo and accompanying fountain — requiring further design, a further approval process, and further delays."
The cross-complaint then discusses Fox's grants of extensions and details the dissatisfaction for attractions tied to properties including Night at the Museum, Ice Age and Planet of the Apes, alleging that Genting was willing to just “slap up” buildings based on core Fox intellectual property without getting the required approvals.
Fox says the contract for the theme park had "teeth in the form of prompt termination if Genting failed to deliver on its many promises," and is now after Genting for $9 million in license fees, $37 million in guaranteed royalty payments and nearly $200K in travel reimbursements. Represented by attorneys at Gibson Dunn and Williams & Connolly, Fox also wants consequential damages. Here's the full counterclaims.
Genting attorney John Berlinski responds, "Fox’s attempt to blame Genting is only to be expected and is designed to divert attention away from its own incompetence and inexperience. Just two months before termination, Fox was more than willing to open Fox World, but only if Genting paid them well in excess of the amounts the parties originally agreed upon. Genting has a proven track record in delivering high quality world-class theme parks and will prove that Fox’s termination was both unfounded and improperly directed by Disney and Fox’s parent company, Twenty First Century Fox.”